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Invasive Species

Invasive Species Impact Agriculture and Natural Resources in the U.S.

Invasive animals, plants and pathogens pose a persistent and growing threat to U.S. agricultural production, forest resources, global food security and rural economies. These threats have real implications, not just for farmers, ranchers, and natural resource managers, but for all Americans. Invasive species impact our quality of life, human health, and our ability to adapt to the changing climate.

What is an Invasive Species?

As defined by Executive Order 13112, an invasive species is:

  1. non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration and
  2. a species whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic harm, environmental harm, or harm to human health.

USDA Agency Roles in Responding to the Threat of Invasive Species

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

APHIS protects U.S. agriculture and natural resources against the entry, establishment, and spread of economically and environmentally significant invasive pests and diseases, regulates genetically engineered crops, and helps people and wildlife coexist. APHIS also certifies the health of U.S. agricultural exports and resolves phytosanitary and sanitary issues to open, expand, and maintain markets for U.S plant and animal products.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Research on invasive species at USDA ARS is focused on understanding their biology, ecology, and impact on agricultural production and natural systems and to develop, improve, and integrate environmentally safe technologies to exclude, eradicate, or manage them. Priority is placed on sustainable and integrated practices that enhance the productivity, quality, and safety of U.S. agriculture while protecting natural resources, native ecosystems, human health, and the environment.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) complements the Department’s efforts to prevent and mitigate the impact of invasive species on U.S. agriculture and international agricultural trade flows. As appropriate, FAS works with its partners to support U.S. international cooperation to help combat invasive species. FAS also monitors foreign countries’ sanitary and phytosanitary policies and related market access requirements to foster transparent, science-based and competitive markets for U.S. agricultural exports.

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

FSA provides farmers, ranchers, and agricultural partners assistance through the delivery of effective, efficient agricultural programs for all Americans. Through conservation and emergency response programs, FSA supports invasive species control in collaboration with producers and other agencies (e.g., NRCS and APHIS).

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA provides leadership and funding for programs that advance agriculture-related sciences, and invests in and supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of US agriculture. Invasive species negatively affect plant and animal production systems in multiple ways. Consequently, invasive species divert finite resources allocated for meeting NIFA’s goals and mission.

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

NRCS efforts for invasives are restricted to private land (as all NRCS efforts are). Within the context of the NRCS 9-steps of planning, the agency plans and applies conservation practices such as Herbaceous Weed Control, Prescribed Burning and Forest Stand Improvement to address invasive species.

Office of Pest Management Policy (OPMP)

The Office of Pest Management Policy (Within the Office of the Chief Economist) coordinates departmental pest management and pesticide regulatory policy, including for uses to combat invasive species. OPMP also leads the interagency Federal IPM Coordinating Committee.

United States Forest Service (USFS)

The USDA Forest Service is a recognized leader in invasive species ecology, management, and research in the United States and internationally. We work with public and private organizations, tribes, states, and local landowners to address a wide range of aquatic and terrestrial invasive species. As a major federal landowner, the agency prevents and controls invasive species across the 193 million-acre National Forest System, public lands and waters extending from Alaska to the Caribbean. The Forest Service works with partners at all levels to respond to and manage invasive species, as well as other native pests and diseases, that threaten the lands and waters of the United States.

Collaborative Efforts to Address a Complicated Issue

Invasive species issues are inherently multi-disciplinary, affecting a range of economic, environmental health and cultural concerns. As such, USDA agencies collaborate with each other and our Federal and non-federal partners to bring a variety of expertise, capabilities and authorities to efforts to prevent, control and eradicate invasive species. To learn more about our partners, see Federal Invasive Species Task Forces, Committees, and Councils.