USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to amend the meat and poultry inspection regulations to provide for, but not require, an electronic export application and certification system. FSIS said that this proposed rule would enable exporters to submit, track, and manage export applications and certificates more efficiently and effectively.  For example, exporters will be able to access their online account to submit applications, delay the issuance of a certificate, cancel pending applications and certificates, and apply for replacement or “in lieu of” certificates.

The proposed rule would also provide flexibility in the requirements for official export inspection marks, devices, and certificates.  FSIS is proposing that exporters could now mark product containers with a unique identifier that links the exported product to the export certificate issued by inspection personnel.    FSIS said that this would shorten the time between production and shipping, reducing storage and other associated costs to the industry.

FSIS is proposing to charge users a fee for submitting applications through this electronic system.  The fee would be set at $27.91 for 2012 and would be calculated anew each year.  The fee would be assessed regardless of whether an export certificate is issued.

Comments on the proposed rule are due by March 23.