Each year invasive pests destroy upward of 40 percent of the world’s food crops which causes $220 billion in trade losses each year, according to the United Nations. In efforts to stop invasive plants from damaging agriculture goods, the U.N. declared this year, as the International Year of Plant Health. USDA is leading those efforts by encouraging everyone to take part in stopping the introduction and spread of invasive pest and disease. In a statement, USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach said, “At USDA, we do all we can for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers so that they can continue to feed and clothe this nation and the world.” He added, “That’s why we’re urging everyone to take this issue seriously and to do their part. Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost-effective than the alternative.”Here are four ways you can participate in the International Year of Plant Health:
- Look for and report unusual signs of pests or disease in trees and plants to your local Extension, State department of agriculture, or local State Office.
- Don’t move firewood. Instead, buy heat-treated firewood or responsibly gather wood near the place it will be burned to ensure tree-killing beetles hiding inside can’t spread to new areas.
- Always declare food, plants, or other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when returning from international travel so they can make sure these items are free of pests.
- Contacting your local State Office before you buy seeds or plants online from other countries to find out if they need to be inspected and certified as pest-free or meet other conditions to legally bring them into the United States.
For more information visit www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/2020.
Listen to the report below.