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Chairman Costa Opening Statement at Hearing on Safeguarding American Agriculture from Wild, Invasive, and Non-Native Species

Washington, November 14, 2019
Chairman Costa Opening Statement at Hearing on Safeguarding American Agriculture from Wild, Invasive, and Non-Native Species

WASHINGTON- House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Chairman Jim Costa of California delivered the following statement today at the Subcommittee’s hearing on safeguarding American agriculture from wild, invasive, and non-native species.

[As Prepared for Delivery]

"Thank you all for joining us today as we hold this hearing to examine the persistent challenges posed to our agricultural supply chains by wild, non-native, and invasive species.

"I am happy to host these witnesses and to discuss the ways U.S. farmers and ranchers are controlling key invasive species domestically as well as the steps importers and exporters are taking to keep invasive species out. These are important steps so that agricultural trade can continue to flow.

"This subcommittee oversees key U.S. Department of Agriculture functions that partner with industry to address these issues, including Wildlife Services at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s trade promotion efforts.  Our discussion will complement the good work of our colleagues on the Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee as well as the Conservation and Forestry Subcommittee as we work on different aspects of these pressing concerns.

"In California, expanding nutria populations damage wetlands and farmlands, and wild birds have played a role in introducing Newcastle Virus into poultry flocks, while in other states, these animals have been linked to similar damage and disease.

"The 2018 Farm Bill also started a new pilot to address the issue of feral swine in the Southeast, and I look forward to hearing more about how the initial implementation of this program is going and to consider if this pilot program could be a model to address other invasive species issues in the future.

"Along our southern border and at our ocean ports, the seasonal nature of our specialty crop industry means trucks and barges carrying fruits and vegetables from outside of the U.S. are potential vectors for dangerous pests that have not yet established in this country.  

"For all these reasons and more, I, and many of my colleagues have joined a bill to increase agriculture inspector resources at our ports and other points of entry. We can’t expect Customs and Border Protection or the Department of Agriculture to evolve its capabilities to match these evolving threats without the resources to do so."
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