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plant and animal health

Preventing Disease Spread through International Collaboration

Two departments, one mission.  That’s the reality for scientists working at Plum Island Foreign Animal Disease Laboratory in New York.  The island—owned and operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—is critical to the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) mission to protect U.S. livestock from the introduction and spread foreign animal diseases such as foot-and-mouth disease.  It provides a biologically safe and secure location for APHIS scientists to diagnose animal diseases.  For two weeks this spring, Plum Island was the site of an important component of our agriculture safeguarding system: sharing expertise and experience to build and strengthen the training, skills and capabilities of other nations, also known as international capacity building.

USDA and DHS welcomed 26 veterinarians responsible for evaluating animal disease outbreaks from 11 Spanish-speaking countries to a training called the International Transboundary Animal Disease (ITAD) Course, funded by the Organismo International Regional de Sanidad Agropecuaris (OIRSA).  The course, provided entirely in Spanish, helps familiarize veterinarians with ten of the most serious animal diseases. The trainings provide a highly-trained global network capable of readily identifying and containing these diseases around the world, minimizing damage to animal agriculture and people’s livelihoods.

All That Glitters Is Not Gold ....

In this case it is green, a brilliant emerald green, and it is chomping its way through America's forests. The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, may look pretty, but it is killing our ash trees in our forests and backyards.

This is Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week (May 19-25) and the time of year when you might see adult beetles flitting about among your ash trees. It is also the time of year you may unknowingly move this pest if you pack firewood when you kick off the summer camping season. 

Can We Eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle?

This past March, almost 11 years after being found in New Jersey, federal and state agriculture officials are finally able to say that the state’s long-running battle against the non-native Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is over.

New Jersey is the second state to declare itself free from the invasive tree-killing insect.  The beetle was successfully eradicated from Illinois in 2008, and the ALB-regulated area of Islip, New York, also achieved eradication in 2011.  So, getting rid of this “hungry pest” is possible.  That’s good news, because, depending on where you live, 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost to ALB.

USA Pears Enter the Chinese Market for the First Time

Even the weather cooperated on February 23, 2013.  With a brilliant blue sky overhead and bright sunlight streaming into the warehouse, the first shipment of pears grown in the United States and destined for the Chinese market arrived in Dalian, China.

The three containers of pears did not slip into the port of Dalian, a city of over six million people located in Liaoning Province in the northeast of China, unnoticed.  Instead, a crowd of onlookers consisting of journalists, invited guests, U.S. and Chinese officials, all gathered to witness the first pallets of Red and Green Anjou pears from Ft. Hood, Oregon being offloaded.

Forest Service Offers Practical Advice for Using Insect-Killed Trees

A new manual released by the U.S. Forest Service offers solutions for using the millions of dead and dying urban trees infected by invasive insects in the eastern United States. 

The free publication, developed by the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory and the University of Minnesota Duluth, offers insight into the wide variety of products and markets that are available, and practical advice for considering the many options. Uses for insect-killed wood include lumber, furniture, cabinetry, flooring and pellets for wood-burning energy facilities. Last year, commemorative ornaments were made from beetle-killed trees for the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree celebration.

Why I Became an Inspector in APHIS’ Animal Care Program

USDA/APHIS’ Animal Care program enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, which sets standards for humane care and treatment that must be provided for certain animals that are exhibited to the public, bred for commercial sale, used in biomedical research, or transported commercially. Individuals/entities that operate facilities using animals in these ways must provide their animals with proper veterinary care, adequate housing, appropriate nutrition, etc.

USDA APHIS Celebrates 40 Years of Public Service

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is celebrating the agency’s 40th anniversary today.  While APHIS’ program activities and responsibilities have grown and evolved since the Agency’s founding in 1972, the mission remains the same:  serving the public by protecting the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources.

Here Comes the Year of the Dragon: How to Honor the Asian New Year while Protecting American Agriculture

Okay, Times Square, you had your big New Year’s Eve bash.  Now it’s time to usher in the Asian Lunar New Year—the Year of the Dragon—which starts on January 23.  Many Asian Americans and their friends are looking forward to enjoying traditional foods, gifts, and parades during this holiday of great cultural significance.

If you’re in on the celebration, you may find it tempting to import tastes of Asia for the festivities.  You may be ordering online or bringing food back from a trip overseas.  USDA is eager to provide you with the information you need to ensure that these items won’t harm America’s agricultural and natural resources.  Some agricultural items from certain Asian countries could be carrying pests or diseases that could seriously damage America’s crops, livestock, forests, rangeland, or community landscapes.  Avoiding these items will help make the Year of the Dragon a prosperous and happy one.