Trade and Other Priorities for USDA Plant Protection Office
The incoming chief of the Plant Protection and Quarantine office within the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced Aug. 20 its priorities for the next two years. These steps, which include those listed below, are designed to foster PPQ’s goals of safeguarding natural resources, sustaining agricultural trade and ensuring that the U.S. produces an abundant and affordable food supply.
- strengthen the partnership with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to protect U.S. borders against the introduction of invasive pests while facilitating safe trade
- review the entire Agriculture Quarantine Inspection program and reinvigorate the AQI mission through strategic analyses of trends and infrastructure needs, strengthening PPQ’s ability to perform its AQI functions and supporting CBP’s agriculture mission
- explore further opportunities to apply the Beyond the Border model (e.g., in the Asian gypsy moth program PPQ coordinates with trading partners such as Japan, China and Russia to institute safeguarding measures at their ports so that ships will not serve as a pathway for AGM to enter the U.S. or Canada)
- explore opportunities to harmonize U.S. and Canadian regulations to mutually enhance safeguarding and to complete projects related to wood packing materials, nursery stock certification, and chrysanthemum white rust regulations, and work likewise with Mexico
- develop alternatives to methyl bromide to maintain effective quarantine treatments
- renew PPQ’s commitment to support U.S. exports by increasing pest surveys to demonstrate pest free areas, increasing pest risk analyses and developing additional treatment tools, and establishing an effective multinational system to reduce the threat of tree pests arriving from
Asia and other parts of the world
- reduce the regulatory actions required for the importation and interstate movement of low-risk pests, with indicators of progress including the issuance of fewer permits and compliance agreements for low-risk organisms as well as simplification and standardization of those permits, compliance agreements, and notifications that must be issued for low-risk organisms
- reduce the time to issue a permit or compliance agreement by lowering the number of hard-copy permit applications that are submitted and processed manually (currently 32% of 15,000 requests each year)
- increase treatment services provided in the U.S. (possibly including the accreditation or certification of third parties) to help open foreign markets and boost domestic business growth
- form an information management and data analysis group to provide timely reports that will inform program delivery, AQI inspection targeting, domestic surveys, and phytosanitary and trade management and be used to persuade trading partners to take additional precautions prior to shipping commodities and conveyances to the U.S.
- renew the relationship with CBP to maximize data- and information-sharing and to simplify but strengthen inspection data collection, protocols and targeting