Goodlatte Subcommittee Inventories Threat of Invasive Species

Oct 2, 2002

Goodlatte Subcommittee Inventories Threat of Invasive Species
Scientific, governmental organizations report on prevention and control

October 2, 2002 -- House Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) convened a hearing with scientists and representatives from federal and state agencies to discuss the issues concerning species that are invasive, harmful and alien to the United States.

"It is my hope that today's hearing will lead to a renewed and forthright commitment in determining how to combat this growing problem in an era of increased and expanded trade between the United States and other countries," said Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte. "Invasive species are dealt with under a patchwork of federal and state laws and regulations administered by a wide variety of federal agencies, most importantly the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. To date, effective action has been hampered by inadequate funding at all levels of government and by inadequate coordination. Successfully combating this problem will require coordinated action by all affected stakeholders, which may include Federal, State, and local governments, private landowners, and nongovernmental organizations. Research into efficient, effective inspection, exclusion, and eradication strategies is vital as well."

Invasive species represent a serious threat to the viability of American agriculture, forestry, and ecosystems. Not only can these harmful organisms cripple production agriculture, but society pays a great price for these harmful species including unemployment, damaged goods and equipment, power failures, food and water shortages, environmental degradation, increased rates and severity of natural disasters, and disease epidemics. The most obvious harm is found in agriculture. Farmers and ranchers are constantly battling alien pests, weeds, and diseases. Decreases in yield and quality of crops and livestock are easily attributed to invasive species. Producers fight stubborn weeds and pests year round – whether preparing for the planting season, during the growing season or harvest.

To add to the scientific presentation, Subcommittee Chairman Goodlatte assembled a display of invasive species provided by The Smithsonian, U.S. Geologic Survey, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, among others. Invasive species are non-native species of plants, animals, and pests that cause harm to human health, the environment or the economy.

A few examples of invasive species:

West Nile virus now threatens people and animals in 42 states and the District of Columbia, transmitted by an aggressive and adaptable mosquito species that arrived inside rubber tires imported from Asia. The number of deaths in the United States this year has risen to 94.

The Asian longhorned beetle, which probably arrived in solid wood pallets from China, causes destruction of valuable trees in urban areas and threatens millions of acres of treasured hardwoods in national forests.
Citrus canker disease has destroyed valuable citrus groves in Florida.
Heartwater is an infectious, but not contagious, tick-borne disease of domestic and wild animals including cattle, sheep, goats, antelope and buffalo migrating from Africa to the nearby Caribbean.
The glassy-winged sharpshooter, an invasive insect carries with it a plant bacterium that has caused nearly $40 million in losses of California grapes, plus nearly $35 billion yearly costs to grape, raisin, and wine industries, and the tourism associated with them.
Foot and Mouth Disease, a highly contagious animal disease, has caused the United States to ban meat imports. The epidemic has already cost British companies $30 billion dollars. Small businesses have lost on average $75,000 and larger ones have lost approximately $300,000.

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