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Category: Plant and Animal Health

A Farewell Message from Secretary Tom Vilsack to Employees

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack behind a row of American flags

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack steps on stage at Bonelli Regional Park.

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sent the following message to all USDA employees:

I want to take this opportunity on my final day at USDA to express my profound gratitude to the people who work at USDA. Every day, nearly 90,000 people leave their families and the comfort of their home to do the people’s work in the People’s Department. What an amazing job you do each day for the country. Read more »

Vermont Says ‘Thank You’ to Massachusetts for Fighting Invasive Beetle

Matt Gordon with Paul Moosey and Rob Antonelli

Matt Gordon, Executive Director of the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association, holds a certificate of appreciation for the City of Worcester accepted by Paul Moosey, Commissioner of Public Works and Parks, and Robert Antonelli, Assistant Commissioner of Public Works and Parks.

The Vermont maple syrup industry is well aware that an invasive, tree-killing insect could threaten the production of its delicious, all-natural commodity.  So on December 13, just four days before National Maple Syrup Day on December 17, the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association and Vermont state officials hosted a special pancake and maple syrup breakfast to thank partners for supporting the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) eradication program in Massachusetts.

Why would people in Vermont make breakfast for their neighbors in Massachusetts?  Vermont’s Forest Health Program Manager Barbara Schultz told the group the Asian longhorned beetle poses a significant threat to our northeastern forests and the insect could spread throughout the region and devastate maple sugaring in Vermont if it’s not eradicated in Massachusetts. Read more »

European Grapevine Moth Cooperative Eradication Program: A Model for Fighting Future Invasive Species Threats

EGVM outreach sign in Napa County

EGVM outreach sign used in Napa County that they can happily now retire, since the invasive pest has been eradicated. Photo by Nelly Castro, Napa County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

I was thrilled to celebrate with key partners and contributors in Napa County, California, recently at an event to recognize the critical safeguarding accomplishment we achieved together, that of eradicating the invasive European grapevine moth (EGVM) from the United States.

Leaders from the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), and the California County Agricultural Commissioners came together with growers and industry representatives, who found and implemented the right tools to safeguard California grapes. In front of these critical partners, I was proud to recognize the extraordinary individual and group contributions that made the eradication of EGVM possible. Read more »

As the Weather Cools, Your Firewood Choices Matter

Don't Move Firewood pests graphic

Wood boring insect pests can continue their development deep within cut wood. They can emerge from wood left to sit outside to infest new areas.

This October, the Nature Conservancy’s Don’t Move Firewood campaign and Hungry Pests, an initiative from APHIS, are partnering to present the first-ever Firewood Awareness Month. The cooler nights and quickly approaching fall season brings an increase in RV camping, hunting, and home heating. Firewood Awareness Month looks to raise public awareness about the potential danger of firewood movement as a pest and disease pathway at this high-risk time of year.

Tree-killing invasive insects and diseases can lurk both inside, and on the surface, of firewood. While these insects and diseases don’t travel far on their own, transporting firewood allows them to move hundreds of miles and start infestations in new places, explains APHIS Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy. Read more »

Prepare Livestock and Animals Ahead of Severe Weather

A barn with livestock

During the Midwest floods in 1993, many livestock and animals were rescued from high water levels. Photo courtesy of FEMA.

It’s important to have a plan in place ahead of severe weather to protect your animals and livestock.  Pets, farm animals and livestock rely on their humans to protect them and keep them safe in all types of emergencies.  The steps we take or don’t take will directly impact their well-being.  Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan for you, your family and your animals as you just don’t know when a disaster will strike your community.

According to Dr. T.J. Myers, Assistant Deputy Administrator for the USDA APHIS Surveillance, Preparedness and Response Services, “Having a plan in place to protect animals and livestock is the best defense against severe weather.  Re-evaluating that plan periodically can make a huge difference and save valuable time during an emergency.” Read more »

Are You and Your Pets Ready in an Emergency?

APHIS employees working with State and Federal partners on an Animal Care Emergency Exercise

Employees with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Animal Care program work with State and Federal partners on an Animal Care Emergency Exercise in Baton Rouge, LA.

We are reminded often throughout the year of the devastating impacts that families and their communities experience when natural disasters such as, floods, mudslides, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes and hurricanes strike.  Because September is National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to think about emergency planning.  Don’t Wait. Communicate. Make an Emergency Communication Plan.

There is a lot of information out there on what to do in the event of a natural disaster, and how to prepare in advance for an emergency – what to bring, what to have in your vehicle and so on. Read more »