The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) had its hands full in 2020. However, APHIS staff were able to adapt to the multitude of challenges to continue to deliver on the department’s mission. Despite the myriad of obstacles, APHIS was able to achieve a variety of successes throughout the year.
“This has been a year like no other,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said in a press release. “Even with the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, APHIS’ employees continued to provide great service and support for the country’s farmers, ranchers, and citizens. Protecting American agriculture requires constant vigilance and effort, and APHIS employees found safe, effective, and creative ways to accomplish our mission this year.”
APHIS staff were able to quickly eradicate Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 from U.S. greenhouses. The issue involved more than 650 facilities in 44 states. It was the first confirmed case of the pathogen in American greenhouses since 2004. APHIS and other partners were also successful in their eradication efforts of avian influenza in North and South Carolina. The quick response kept the pathogen from spreading to more than a little over a dozen cases. APHIS staff also diligently worked to protect land from feral swine damage in 37 states.
In 2020 APHIS updated its biotechnology regulations for the first time in more than 30 years. The Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient rule will help regulations stay current with scientific advancement. More than $27 million was also invested in 2020 to secure supplies of the foot-and-mouth disease vaccine. It was the first purchase for the new National Animal Vaccine and Veterinary Countermeasures Bank that was established as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. APHIS also coordinated with other USDA departments to preserve more than $50 million in agricultural trade.