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House Agriculture Subcommittees Highlight Importance of Defending American Agriculture from Foreign Pests and Diseases

Washington, D.C. - Today, the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, and Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture held a joint hearing to highlight the importance of agricultural policies to protecting our national security. Members heard from representatives of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on their joint efforts to mitigate threats to animal and plant health from entering the U.S. This is a continuation of the committee’s hearing series highlighting the importance of agriculture to national security.

“Regardless of how a threat has been introduced, accidentally or otherwise, it is our responsibility to have systems in place to detect, control, and eradicate these diseases in an effective and efficient way. With Americans being further and further removed from agriculture, we must ensure Members outside of this committee understand we face real threats in this industry and it is vital we continue to strengthen our investments in our agricultural infrastructure to protect it,” said Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Davis (R-IL).

“As globalization and imports increase, so do the risks to domestic producers from foreign pests. However, through research and cooperation amongst agencies, we can be prepared to meet the challenges to come, safeguarding our economy and supporting our local fruit and vegetable growers in the process,” said Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Ranking Member Suzan DelBene (D-WA). 

“Today, we heard first-hand the major efforts the hard-working men and women of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and Customs and Border Protection are making to minimize the impact of agricultural pests and diseases entering the United States. It is our role as Congress to ensure these agencies have the tools they need to manage and defend against these threats. Thank you to our witnesses for sharing with us their great insight into this very important topic,” said Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer (R-NC).

“The continued success and growth of our nation’s agriculture industry is dependent on a host factors, including our ability to protect animals and plants from pests and diseases. I applaud the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Boarder Protection for working to protect American agriculture from foreign threats and diseases, and today’s hearing made it clear that Congress must continue to support their efforts,” said Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Ranking Member Jim Costa (D-CA). 

Both APHIS and CBP work hard to prevent potential threats to agriculture from entering the U.S. and have implemented comprehensive agricultural safeguarding systems to protect U.S. agriculture from pest and disease risks. APHIS’s systems focus on reducing pest risks to the U.S., ensuring agricultural products entering the country do not carry invasive pests, conducting domestic surveillance programs, and ensuring robust emergency response in the event of a significant pest introduction. Furthermore, the CBP has partnered with APHIS to develop and implement technology training models to strengthen CBP’s ability to detect, intercept pests entering into the U.S.