USDA Proposes Revising the Section 8e Import Inspection Fee Structure for Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and other Products

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is proposing revisions to the regulations governing the inspection and certification of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other products. These proposed changes include a per-pound fee structure for certain Section 8e import inspections, a minimum fee equivalent to a 2-hour charge computed at the current established hourly rate, whichever is greater, and a 50 percent reduction to the sublot fee.

The current measurement, a carlot, is defined as “any number of containers which contain a product of the same kind located on or unloaded from the same conveyance and available for inspection at the same time and location…” (7 CFR 51.2). Modern shipping methods, such as bulk shipping containers, air freight, railcars, etc., can vary in size and therefore also vary in weight. A per-pound based fee schedule will ensure AMS Specialty Crops Program (SCP) Specialty Crop Inspection (SCI) recovers costs for the actual time and resources needed to inspect the product and will allow shippers to assess the actual costs of inspections more accurately.

Customers with loads currently subject to additional sublot fees would see a significant decrease in these fees by 50 percent. A sublot is generated when “the product differs markedly as to quality and/or condition, and such differences are definitely associated with certain brands, varieties, sizes or container markings.” These changes would more equitably and accurately assess fees based on actual volume inspected.

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on June 20, 2024. Written comments must be received by August 19, 2024. Comments should be submitted online at, faxed to (540) 361-1199, or mailed to the USDA, Specialty Crops Inspection Division, 100 Riverside Parkway, Suite 101, Fredericksburg, VA 22406.