The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and USDA held a meeting in Washington last week to update agricultural stakeholders on the agencies' partnership in protecting agriculture from foreign plant and animal pests and diseases.
"While we cannot inspect our way to a threat-free import system, we can take steps throughout the process to keep pests and diseases from ever making it to our ports of entry," says Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer. "This meeting gave USDA and DHS an opportunity to exchange ideas with stakeholders and showcase the significant strides we've made, and continue making to further protect American agriculture."
USDA undersecretary Bruce Knight says the group was updated on the work that has taken place since some of the USDA inspection roles were transferred to DHS. He says that while there were some growing pains, the efforts have become more successful over time.
Participants also were updated on the efforts of the Joint Agency Task Force and the newly established Federal-State Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Partnership Council. The task force was formed last year to address concerns about the Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program and strengthen the partnership of the two agencies.