In an effort to streamline their processes, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has gone from having three Service Centers (British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec) to having one central depository for all importers and customs brokers to send their documentation to obtain a CFIA release. We applaud wholeheartedly the department's effort to streamline processes, save tax payer money, and become more efficient.
Change however, does not always happen as smoothly as we would like and this particular change has been a bit more challenging than one would have hoped. Importers, brokers and carriers are routinely faced with delays up to 4-6 hours to obtain a CFIA release. This is assuming that the time frame does not coincide with the 4 hours that CFIA is closed between midnight and 04:00 Eastern time. This has a snowball effect, as the Customs release is then 6-8 hours, and if you are an importer purchasing goods from a vendor located within 4 hours from the 49th. parallel then you know all too well, that your trucks are arriving at the border before the Customs release has been processed.
A long standing term in the produce industry is "First to Market". You can't be first to market if your truck is sitting idling, and this reflects in lost market share. Idling trucks also cost money, and this is being reflected in costs for waiting time being passed on from Carriers to Importers. As consumers, we feel the pinch when we go to purchase our favorite fruits and vegetables at the market.
As your customs broker, we are in touch with CFIA on a daily basis regarding these issues, and we are assured that they are being worked on, and a process is being put in place to deal with the sheer volumes that are causing their systems to function in a less than optimal manner. We have faith that change will be forthcoming and we extend our thanks to the CFIA for their willingness to listen to industries issues and proactively react to them. Patience is a virtue, or so it is said, so at this time, we hope that as importers, brokers and carriers, we can all practice a little patience and know that this, like all issues that crop up, no pun intended, from time to time, will have a positive resolution.
In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact our office at anytime to discuss this or anything else related to your shipments. We are proud to say that we have served the Produce industry for over 55 years and look forward to continuing to do so well into the future.