Conrad Estrada (third from left) with students from “Jóvenes en Acción” – Youth in Action. This program provides Mexican high school students the opportunity to experience the United States and develop their leadership skills.
When Dr. Conrad Estrada became an APHIS Foreign Service Officer (FSO), his goal was to get out of his comfort zone, “not only in the geographic sense, but also on a personal and professional level.”
Six years later, the veterinarian admits he got both wishes. Trained in Peru, Estrada earned his master’s degree in preventive veterinary medicine at the University of California-Davis before joining the APHIS Foreign Service in 2009. He is now the APHIS Foreign Service (FS) area director in Brasilia, Brazil, a job that “has offered me a great opportunity to expand my horizons, as well as increase my understanding of an integrated agricultural global market.” Read more »
Course participants practice swabbing wild ducks for diagnostic sampling
Protecting agriculture is nothing new for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), who is on the job 24/7 keeping livestock safe from animal disease. APHIS is sharing that expertise internationally to help countries protect livestock and threatened and endangered species from diseases like brucellosis, tuberculosis, avian influenza, bluetongue and rabies. APHIS, with help from the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), held a new training course specifically focused on wildlife disease issues. APHIS recently hosted wildlife disease specialists from all over the world, including Cambodia, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Uganda, and Vietnam.
All of APHIS’ capacity building programs are designed to identify and reduce agricultural pest and disease threats while these threats are still outside of U.S. borders. Capacity building includes training and technology transfer to assist foreign partners in building their animal and plant health infrastructures. This capability, in turn, helps to reduce the chances that undetected agricultural threats will find pathways into the United States. Read more »
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work to keep markets open to U.S. products. Recently, an interagency team resolved an issue with Morocco, keeping a $126 million market open for American butter, cheese and other dairy products.
U.S. agricultural exports continue to be a bright spot for America’s economy, worth a record $152.5 billion in fiscal year 2014. That’s why USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and its sister agencies work so hard to keep these export markets open. So in 2011, when Morocco requested that USDA use a new dairy export certificate that we could not endorse, we launched into action. Our goal was to protect an export market worth $126 million annually while preserving our close relationship with a valued trading partner.
Morocco is the 13th largest export market for our dairy products, and U.S. dairy exports are the fastest growing export category to that country. U.S. companies export many dairy commodities to Morocco, such as butter, cheese and skim milk powder, as well as dairy ingredients such as milk protein and whey protein products. Read more »
Peace Corps Volunteers receiving training on screwworm surveillance program from APHIS employees in Panama.
Over the past few months, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), as part of the U.S. Panama Commission for Eradication of Screwworm, has started to partner with Peace Corps Volunteers in Panama to enhance APHIS’ surveillance activities. Volunteers will be working in rural Panama and meeting with local communities to raise awareness about as well as report suspected cases of New World screwworm, one of the most costly and economically significant pests of livestock in South America.
The New World screwworm is a parasite of warm-blooded animals, including humans. Female screwworms are attracted to and lay their eggs in exposed flesh wounds. After eggs hatch, larvae burrow and feed on flesh, causing severe tissue damage and may even be lethal to the host. The screwworm was eradicated from the United States, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Curacao and, finally, all of Central America in 2006 using the Sterile Insect Technique in which sterile male flies are released in massive numbers to mate with wild female populations. The mated female flies then lay non-viable eggs, leading to a decrease and subsequent eradication of screwworm populations. To prevent the screwworm from spreading north of South America, The Commission is maintaining a barrier at the Darien Gap between Panama and Colombia, by utilizing both preventive release of sterile flies and field surveillance. Read more »
APHIS Work-to-Learn Student Carroll Barnes and USDA Federal Disability Employment Program Manager Alison Levy converse about his work with the APHIS Professional Development Center in Frederick.
Traditional classrooms aren’t the only place where high school students learn new things. Every workday from 12:40 to 2:40 p.m., Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) senior Carroll Barnes is learning outside the classroom through his school’s Work-to-Learn program. He hitches a ride from the program’s van and arrives at the Professional Development Center (PDC) of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine, in Frederick, Maryland for two hours’ of on-the-job training. He’s tasked with a broad range of general office duties, such as filing, shredding, and stocking printers. He also assists with the PDC’s training support activities, including collating and distributing classroom materials and labeling laboratory equipment and supplies.
As the PDC Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) Chair, I oversee his daily activities and coordinate the work needed by our staff with his availability. In addition to gaining administrative and clerical work experience, Carroll is also exposed to the broader APHIS mission of safeguarding American agricultural and natural resources from invasive pests. The PDC provides training, leadership and consultation to APHIS employees and others who work to protect the Nation’s agriculture and natural resources from plant pests and diseases. Carroll believes that “all happiness depends on courage and work,” and adds he’s “learning about my new job, learning to schedule my time, to balance my budget…” which he suggests are good life lessons that everyone should learn. Read more »
USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Ed Avalos speaking to Congressman Ron Barber and local stakeholders at the celebration of the opening of the contingency livestock inspection facility in Douglas, AZ.
Trade… Employee safety… U.S. Livestock Health… Every organization must work to balance its priorities, and these are just a few of the priorities that the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has as part of its work at the livestock inspection facilities along the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
APHIS employees work at these facilities to inspect cattle to ensure they are free of ticks and diseases that could harm U.S. livestock. After violence prevented APHIS inspectors from traveling to several of the existing livestock inspection stations in Mexico, we recognized that we needed a contingency plan to ensure continued trade between the United States and Mexico. Read more »