April doesn’t just mark the start of planting, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is raising awareness about invasive species.
And it’s not just the Emerald Ash Borer that costs Americans, APHIS Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy says the cost to the U.S. economy from foreign plant pests and disease is nearly a $120 billion a year.
He says, “Each year invasive species cost America dearly. They damage crops, kill trees, and cause for costly response. But also invasive species could lead to closing markets to U.S. products from infested areas.”
APHIS says citrus diseases in Florida can turn orange juice into a luxury, the Asian Longhorn beetle could do the same to maple syrup, and the European grapevine moth can destroy grape production.
While those are a few of the threats, El-Lissy says they are creating ways to fight off the pests, primarily in a three pronged approach, “We begin by combating invasive pests in other countries before getting here. We check cargo and passenger packages crossing our borders and search across the country for any that may have slipped in so we can respond quickly.”