Protecting the health of our nation's crops and environment is becoming an increasingly important and difficult task. The passage of trade agreements has increased the flow of fruits, vegetables, and propagative plant materials, along with “hitchhiking” organisms, across our borders making the United States more susceptible to plant pests and diseases. The possible introduction of foreign plant pests and diseases, coupled with current efforts to control pests and diseases already inhabiting the United States makes the need for 1) federal-state collaboration and cooperation in program delivery and 2) basic and applied research more important than ever.
Research should be aimed at determining pathways of introduction, preventing the introduction of pests, including pathogens, controlling plant pest and diseases and developing new methods for reducing and eliminating potential plant health hazards during the production process. The consumption of and demand for fresh fruit and vegetables and propagative plant materials continues to grow and the agricultural industry must strengthen its efforts to integrate plant health, management and, where needed, eradication programs.
States run plant health programs cooperate with the Animal and Plant Health Service to manage and implement programs to identify pests and determine methods to eradicate, manage or control them. Emergency program funding is often available through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to deal with foreign pests and diseases. More pest and disease problems are recognized each year. The pests and diseases not only affect crops, but also forests, aquatic habitats, rangeland and urban areas. States find their responsibilities expanding, while adequate resources to deal with them are hard to come by.