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Plant and Crop Security


Agriculture is a vital component of the U.S. economy. Each season, producers face threats to crop production. These threats include natural disasters, as well as deliberate acts by individuals or groups wishing to harm consumers or the U.S. economy.

Plant and crop security is the protection of economically significant crops and natural resources from potential threats. Protecting U.S. agricultural and natural resources from attack by invasive species and diseases is the responsibility of:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – A division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), APHIS has a number of programs in place (see University and National Agency Links below) to protect agriculture. Continuous enhancements of these federal programs focus on increasing surveillance and the capacity of pest and disease diagnostic systems.

Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) – As a program of APHIS, PPQ inspectors work across the country at more than 100 ports-of-entry, screening imported agricultural products and materials for exotic pests or diseases. Although some border inspection activities were moved under the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in March, 2003, APHIS/PPQ still establishes the scientific rules and protocols as well as performs diagnoses.

Farmers, Crop Consultants, and Extension Specialists – These individuals can and do serve as “first detectors.” They should watch for, recognize and know how to report plant and crop abnormalities. In addition, plant and crop security is enhanced if they stay up to date on established, emerging and potential threats – as well as have an understanding of biological and chemical agents – that could negatively affect key crops and natural resources or harm consumers.

Protecting our crops and agricultural economy is everyone's business. Every traveler entering the United States, and every individual or business that imports agricultural products from other countries, may unknowingly bring “hitchhikers” across U.S. Borders.

EDEN's section of Plant & Crop Security begins to address these and other issues in greater detail in the following sections:

Homeland security as it pertains to plant and crop production is still being defined. Those interested in contributing information to the EDEN plant and crop security pages should contact the page author.

National Networks, Centers & Boards  

The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) is made up of plant and pest experts from the nation’s Land-Grant universities and state laboratories. The network, created by USDA-Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), is charged with providing a cohesive system to detect pests and pathogens that have been intentionally or unintentially introduced into agricultural and natural ecosystems, identifying them quickly, and reporting them to appropriate responders and decision makers. The network, through the training and use of diagnostic equipment and communication, enables University laboratories affiliated with CSREES to extend the capacity of the federal laboratory system. It is important in reducing overload of the federal laboratory system when a plant/pest outbreak occurs and the number of samples submitted for diagnosis skyrockets.

The NPDN has five regional centers, each of which has a support function for the national network, in addition to providing information unique to its region:
The Integrated Pest Management Centers are USDA regional centers that, through collaborative networks, inform public and private sector interests about emerging issues and identify farmers' needs and priorities. Working with cooperating Land-Grant institutions, these centers strengthen the connection between production agriculture, research, Extension programs, and agricultural stakeholders throughout the United States. The regions and institutional hosts of their Web sites are as follows:

The National Plant Board is an organization of the plant pest regulatory agencies of each state and Puerto Rico. National Plant Board members work cooperatively with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), APHIS, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Agriculture Research Service (ARS) to prevent the entry of new pests and diseases into the country.


Featured Resources  

Emerging Pests (PPQ)
A continually updated site on new plant pest issues and links to new pest outbreak situations where regulatory actions are necessary.

Commercial Floriculture (NCState)
An information center on crop and floriculture topics.

Agrichemical and Environmental News
A monthly report on environmental and pesticide related issues from Washington State University

A gateway to federal and state invasive species activities and programs.


Last Updated:10/2/2009 1:33 AM

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