USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) consolidated the following offices — Veterinary Services (VS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), Wildlife Services, Animal Care, and Investigations and Enforcement Services — into two regional offices. The consolidation streamlined the administration of programs, permitted cross utilization of personnel, and made the agency more responsive to the needs of the states and their constituencies. NASDA commends APHIS for its efforts to seek efficiency within the federal government and to improve satisfaction of its constituencies. We recognize the importance of the consolidation of APHIS programs into eastern and western regional offices as a cost savings measure, while maintaining accessibility by customers and partners. NASDA recommends that, to prevent negative impacts on services, costs for future reorganizations should not be taken from operational programs, but from agency overhead savings.
Further, NASDA recognizes that plant and animal health issues may not be similar within the consolidated regions and that current funding levels of programs in a particular region may be diminished due to priority setting as a result of the regional consolidation. NASDA urges APHIS to consider the plant and animal health needs of the states within the current regional composition when allocating program funding.
NASDA strongly supports increasing funding to PPQ Unit for the purpose of interception of illegal and smuggled food products that pose a direct threat to the food security of the United States of America and to homeland security. NASDA also strongly supports increasing APHIS’s ability to fine and prosecute offenders of United States’ agricultural import laws. NASDA also recognizes that the 48 inspectors that the PPQ Smuggling and Interdiction Program has for inspection of all imported food and agricultural products into the United States is severely inadequate and further poses a direct flaw in the United States’ ability to ensure food security and homeland security.