An adult spotted lanternfly (Photo courtesy of Bugwood)
Last year, an invasive pest known as the spotted lanternfly was found in the United States for the first time ever in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Tucked away in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Berks County may seem an unlikely location to find a foreign pest, but with today’s global economy unwanted pests can show up almost anywhere.
In response, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is working closely with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) to stop this pest from spreading. APHIS has already contributed more than $1 million in Farm Bill funding to support the response effort in Pennsylvania, and PDA quickly established a quarantine area and regulated the movement of potential host material to help protect other communities. Read more »
Here at USDA, we believe in the power of community to make a difference. So when Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC, reached out to the USDA Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to come visit for their annual day of service, we were eager to welcome over 100 seventh graders to our headquarters to talk about the importance of environmental awareness and conservation practices, their theme for this year. With seventy percent of the nation’s land under private ownership, the success of USDA’s partnership with landowners to clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion, and create and protect wildlife habitat will depend on developing a strong next generation of conservation leaders like the Alice Deal students. So too, will our ability to manage the public lands and waters, including our national forests and grasslands that we hold in trust for the American people.
After a day with these bright young students, we’ve learned that we’re in pretty good hands. Read more »
Bananas from the field are collected and washed after harvest and prior to export.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture continuously seeks opportunities for U.S. agricultural products and producers to expand access to overseas markets and contribute to a positive U.S. trade balance, in turn creating jobs and supporting economic growth. The past six years have represented the strongest period for American agricultural exports in the history of our country. In fiscal year 2014 American farmers and ranchers exported a record $152.5 billion of food and agricultural products to consumers worldwide.
To that end, I recently had the opportunity to visit the Philippines with APHIS employees and meet with U.S. Embassy personnel, Philippine government officials, and Philippine industry representatives. On my trip, I met with our Philippine counterparts at all levels and learned first-hand the value of outreach and relationship-building between APHIS colleagues stationed in Manila, Embassy colleagues, and locally employed staff. Philip Goldberg, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, who was very gracious with his time, acknowledged the close working relationship between APHIS personnel in Manila and their local plant and animal health counterparts and highlighted how resolutions of technical issues contribute to the overall strong bilateral partnership between the United States and the Philippines. Read more »
Colorado State University graphics design student Katie Clonan with her winning logo. Photo by USDA.
Come this October, Katie Clonan is looking forward to seeing the fruits of her labor all over Fort Collins, Colorado. That’s because Katie is the winner of the 2015 Rabies in the Americas (RITA) logo contest. Her logo will be showcased on t-shirts, banners, and other paraphernalia shared with more than 300 attendees of the 26th annual RITA conference from October 4-8 in Fort Collins.
“This is the first time the international Rabies in the Americas conference has been held in Colorado,” notes Dr. Stephanie Shwiff, one of several USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) National Wildlife Research Center (NWRC) scientists helping to plan the event. “We’re excited to host the conference with our colleagues in the Wildlife Services National Rabies Management Program and other members of the RITA planning committee. One of my favorite tasks so far has been partnering with Colorado State University’s (CSU) Department of Art and Art History to sponsor a logo contest.” Read more »
Photo credit: Mark Trail via @ComicsKingdom
Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) Awareness week is May 17-23 and my tenure in a nationally syndicated comic strip is coming to an end, so it’s a good time to tell you how a new USDA employee wound up cartoon-ized.
The Mark Trail strip—known for its environmental themes—just finished a six-week long storyline about the invasive EAB. The EAB, a small metallic green wood-boring beetle, destroys ash trees and is now found in 25 U.S. States. The Mark Trail strip features “Agent Abbey Powell from the USDA” and shares information about the EAB. To view the comic—beginning with my debut—visit Mark Trail. Read more »
Working dogs like these two livestock protection dogs help drive off predators such as wolves, bears, and coyotes, and offer sheep ranchers an alternative to reducing livestock losses.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is helping to provide livestock producers in the western United States with livestock guard dogs that offer greater protection against predators.
Generally large and white with shaggy hair, livestock protection dogs are trained to respond aggressively to predators such as wolves, bears, and coyotes. Guard dogs are often used in the sheep industry as a method of non-lethal predator management because of their perceived effectiveness and low cost to producers. According to a 2010 American Sheep Industry survey, guard dog use is only second to shed lambing at effectively reducing depredation. Shed lambing, that is, raising lambs exclusively indoors, however is more than 9 times the annual cost of using a dog for lamb protection. Owing to the low cost of using livestock protection dogs, they are extremely valuable to the sheep industry. According to Michael Marlow, resource management specialist for APHIS’ Wildlife Services program, many producers are certain they’d be out of business without them. Read more »