Often it “appears” that Citrus Mutual expresses frustration or opposition to APHIS and their proposals.  They are the agency tasked with the responsibility of protecting agriculture from invasive pests and diseases as well as establishing protocols for allowing off shore product into the United States that could vector pest and disease.  Thus their responsibility ranges from fruits, vegetables, and wood products to ship hulls and containers.

Recognizing years ago that zero risk is difficult to obtain, the establishment of a systems approach to include a risk assessment and risk mitigation steps was adopted that created the opportunity for more product to enter the United States.  Many Ag organizations, including CCM, have expressed dismay about the apparent increase of invasive pests and subsequent challenges to eradicate either by the producer or a state or federal program.  Can anybody spell HLB for example?  Finally, after a few years of pressure APHIS has published an annual report.  Obviously, it speaks highly of the Agency’s work but some of the numbers are astounding.

They cleared 1.78 billion pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables

They cleared over 1.1 billion plants/ bulbs from 22 countries before they were shipped.

They inspected 15,697 household goods shipments

They inspected 7,989 unaccompanied baggage shipments

They inspected 10,758 vehicles

They identified 140,822 pests on imported produce preventing entry into the U.S.

Oversaw approximately 35,000in transit & port of entry treatments on imports

Inspected 12.7 million passenger bags in Hawaii & Puerto Rico before departure

Conducted 98,608 inspections of Ag commodities from the above before departure

Seized 3,222 prohibited Ag items from retail and internet sales before U.S. entry

In their spare time they released more than 15.7 billion sterile fruit flies over California, Texas, & Florida helping to eradicate 9 of 13 fruit fly outbreaks.  This doesn’t count the one million stingless wasps to control emerald ash borer beetle or spending millions to protect rangeland from grasshoppers and Mormon crickets!  There is a lot more to the program and many more numbers.  As we meet with senior management for the Agency on varied matters we remind them how much they are appreciated but that we’re from the private sector and here to help.