The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) plant protection and quarantine program recently released its fourth and final report, Safeguarding Implementation — A Time for Celebration and Reflection . In conjunction, APHIS announced implementation of more than 300 recommendations for bolstering protection of U.S. agriculture and plant resources from destructive, nonnative plant pests.
The recommendations were the result of an 11-month study conducted in 1999 by the National Plant Board, a consortium of state regulatory agencies. Developed by a 43-member review group comprised of representatives of state government, industry, academia and advocacy groups, the recommendations addressed four primary components of PPQ’s safeguarding system — the collection and use of international pest information, the use of permits to manage risk, the exclusion of pests, and the detection of and response to pests that enter the United States.
"We have made tremendous strides in meeting the challenge issued by the National Plant Board with delivery of its review, Safeguarding American Plant Resources ," said Richard L. Dunkle, deputy administrator for PPQ." As a result of the review, PPQ is a very different organization. We are more cohesive, more focused and better prepared to efficiently and proactively safeguard the nation's plant resources from plant-pest introductions."
Over the past five years, PPQ has worked diligently and systematically toward achieving the safeguarding review’s recommendations. To date, every recommendation in the safeguarding review has been fully evaluated. Most recommendations are either implemented or in the process of being implemented. A small number of recommendations were referred to the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection after the 2003 transfer of the agricultural inspection mission to the agency.
“PPQ extends its appreciation to the National Plant Board for its thoughtful and thorough examination of its safeguarding system and continued support and collaboration during the implementation period for the report’s recommendations,” stated USDA.
“PPQ’s commitment to a comprehensive review of their program and aggressive implementation of the needed changes is commendable,” said National Plant Board president W. A. Dickerson. “Their willingness to eagerly listen, carefully consider and incorporate stakeholder feedback gives me a high-level of confidence in the program’s ability to safeguard American agriculture and plant resources.”