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WEST VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS

Full-Time Federal Inspector Approved

September 16, 1993|JEFF McDONALD

The U.S. Department of Agriculture next month will place a full-time animal and plant inspection officer at the Port of Hueneme, opening up the port to new imports and jobs, the port director said Wednesday.

The federal approval initially will enable apples and pears from New Zealand to be imported through the port. Other commodities, such as grapes, peaches and nectarines from South America, will soon follow, Port Director Anthony Taormina said.

"For us to stand up and call ourselves a full-service port, you have to have the full services, which include customs inspections and (animal and plant inspectors)," Taormina said.

"Our niche market is for agriculture, and it's pretty difficult to market yourselves as an agricultural port if you don't have a full-time inspector," he added. "It will have a direct bearing on our ability to attract business to our port."

Up until now, Taormina said, the work has been performed by temporary or contract inspectors. Office space already has been cleared for the person who will be appointed to the job before Oct. 4, he said.

"This has been an impediment to the port that has been removed," the director said. "I believe it will lead directly to new business."

For Taormina, the approval of a full-time inspector at the Port of Hueneme caps a four-year lobbying effort that includes numerous pleas to Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley).

"The congressman was essential in establishing Port Hueneme as an official port of entry," Taormina said.

Gallegly said in a news release that pressure he placed on Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy helped prompt the decision. "This will mean more business for the port and more jobs for Ventura County," Gallegly said.

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