State Liaison, APHIS
Legislative and Public Affiars
For the third year, APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine Program (PPQ) is gearing up to seek suggestions to implement section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill. Section 10201 directs PPQ to make available Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Funds for a variety of new plant health programs, starting with $12 million in fiscal year (FY) 2009, $45 million in FY10 and $50 million in FY11 and years thereafter. In FY10 the final spending plan allocated $45 million across more than 230 projects or procurements with 50 States and other cooperators. The plan is available on the Farm Bill 10201 website listed at the bottom of this article.
Like FY10, the FY11 spending plan will be organized around six goal areas:
To inform the development of the FY11 spending plan, PPQ is seeking suggestions from interested stakeholders from May 3- June 18 on what particular projects should be funded this year. Several hundred suggestions were made last year, from which over 230 distinct projects were funded. For FY11, it is expected that while the overall number of projects will remain approximately the same, the number of new projects will be lower due to the continuation of some FY10 projects.
Once a final spending plan is developed, it will be posted on the farm bill 10201 website. Having a final spending plan will allow PPQ to begin entering into agreements with cooperators beginning as early as October 1, the start of FY11.
Some of the key dates to watch during the FY11 10201 process are:
To provide the latest information regarding the suggestion submittal and review process for FY11, PPQ is planning to conduct several webinars and to send out weekly email updates. PPQ is also planning to tweet updates through the APHIS twitter channel, twitter.com/APHISgov.
If you have suggestions for a 10201 project, please visit the Section 10201 website for information on format and instructions on how to submit a suggestion.
For more information on the implementation of section 10201, please see:
Last year APHIS reported on a new multi-state project designed to increase public awareness of the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB), emerald ash borer (EAB) and other forests pests of concern in nine northeast States. The project arose as a result of concerns Federal and State forestry officials had about the Asian longhorned beetle infestation in Worcester, MA, and its potential impacts on urban and native forests in the region. For 2010, the project has been renamed the Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Project (FPOSP) and has expanded to include Ohio, Illinois and Michigan in addition to the nine original participating States of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The FPOSP is a cooperative effort between State and Federal agencies focused around ALB Awareness Month, building up volunteer cadres who actively look for and report suspicious signs of ALB and other forest pests, and a zip code based assessment of wood movement into the region’s State and Federal campgrounds.
The first project component, ALB Awareness Month, was developed because August is the best month for the public to see the insect and visual signs of infestation, if present in the environment. To promote the initiative, Governor’s Proclamations will be sought again and events planned to educate the public and encourage volunteers to learn about and survey forest pests. The project will also continue with a major volunteer initiative in each State to “train the trainers” so that these trained individuals can go back to their organizations and instruct their membership on what to look for and to whom to report signs of ALB and other forests pests of concern.
The second component of FPOSP involves contacting Federal and State campgrounds to assess their risk based on zip code analyses of their reservations from visitors who originated from ALB and EAB quarantined areas. The concept here is that visitors from these areas may bring firewood with them, an action which carries a very high risk for bringing pests from one area to another. Results from these analyses will be used to conduct visual surveys of host trees for signs of ALB and EAB and to seek assistance from park staff on education of campers.
Last November, at the conclusion of the 2009Northeast Forest Pest Outreach and Survey Project, project staff completed a multi-State review of accomplishments and developed recommendations for improving activities in future years. Results from 2009 included proclamations of ALB Awareness Month in all 9 States; peak regional media coverage in August/September as a result of concentrated “blitzes” during ALB Awareness Month; over 300 training and presentation sessions; street tree surveys in 35 high risk communities using both professionals and volunteers with no ALB detected; creation of an intranet site to facilitate communication and information sharing between participating States; outreach and survey activities at 218 campgrounds; and second homeowner outreach and survey activities in Vermont and New Hampshire. Recommendations for improvements have been incorporated into the 2010 FPOSP plans.
For more information on FPOSP, please contact: Patty Douglass, State Plant Health Director-CT/MA/RI at 203 269-4277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
APHIS’ National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN) is coordinating a 12 State negative cohort study for foot and mouth disease (FMD). The primary objective of the FMD negative cohort study, which began on May 1, is to validate the rRT PCR tests for FMD, based on recommendations from an FMD rRT-PCR dossier review. The dossier review is conducted to gain a thorough understanding of the diagnostic assay and its performance.
In addition, the study will also help the NAHLN to better assess and improve laboratory procedures and processes for sample selection, testing, and result communication; identify information technology needs; assess and implement current notification/communication protocols for foreign animal diseases; and recommend improvements for the overall NAHLN laboratory surveillance component of future surveillance systems involving diseases in NAHLN Laboratories.
The study will take place in California, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. The selection process for these States began by selecting the top-producing States for each commodity group, coupled with an evaluation of diagnostic submission numbers and geographic distribution. Further, only NAHLN Laboratories that have completed the NAHLN Laboratory Qualification Checklist and have a functional quality system were eligible to participate. The process resulted in 12 States, geographically distributed throughout the U.S, with reasonable laboratory sample submission numbers from each species. Each State will be requested to test samples for its respective species.
A minimum of 1000 samples per species from five geographically distinct areas will be tested as part of this study. Sample collection goals for the study are the following: 1250 samples from swine; 1500 bovine samples (divided between beef and dairy states); and 1500 small ruminant samples which will be tested and identified as either sheep or goats. These samples will be collected from routine diagnostic laboratory submissions.
Once collected, the samples will be used to validate existing diagnostic tests to determine if an assay should be used for a specific purpose (fit for purpose). This helps laboratory personnel to choose assays that can be used as diagnostic tools that will not only provide accurate results, but have the potential to minimize the economic impact of a disease outbreak. Ultimately, assays selected in this study will be used in risk-based surveillance plans for early detection and during outbreaks. As such, this study will help identify assays that detect all positive animals. Since this will require an assay with a high sensitivity, it can be expected that the number of samples from true negative animals that test positive (false positive) using the assay will increase. This study will help to better gauge how many false positives to expect and what is causing them.
In order to make the most efficient and effective use of resources, appropriate samples, will also be used for upcoming negative cohort studies for African Swine Fever and Rinderpest, expected to be implemented in June 2010. The purpose of these studies will be the same as for FMD—to improve the understanding of the tests’ performances.
Although it is expected that all of these samples will be true negative samples, any samples that test positive will undergo confirmatory testing at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories, Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory to determine the cause of the positive PCR test result (i.e. cross-reactivity). NAHLN Program Staff has coordinated with the National Center of Animal Health Emergency Management (NCAHEM) on a notification protocol and response plan and will use it to test existing communications protocols in the event of a false or presumptive positive sample collected in this study.
Sarah Tomlinson, Associate NAHLN Coordinator
It’s been six years since Michigan’s governor formally declared emerald ash borer (EAB) Awareness Week-today governors from Maryland to Nebraska are issuing their own proclamations in an effort to increase public awareness about EAB and the risk associated with moving firewood.
This year APHIS’ Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program will re-launch its popular “Burn It Where You Buy It” firewood campaign providing almost 15,000 vinyl yards signs and other promotional materials to 16 States and 3 Native American tribes. Because firewood is a primary pathway for the transfer of invasive pests like EAB, garnering public support and participation is important to reducing the human-assisted spread of forest pests and safeguarding our natural and urban landscapes.
Participating States include those with known EAB infestations (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin) and 4 unaffected States (Colorado, Kansas, South Dakota, and Iowa). Tribal participation includes the Leech Lake Band of the Ojibwe, Penobscot Nation and St. Regis Mohawk tribe.
Ash trees are as important ecologically in the forest of the northeastern United State and eastern Canada, as they are economically. Ash trees are very desirable for urban planting because they grow well under difficult conditions; plus its wood is valued for flooring, furniture, sports equipment and tool handles. Ash, in particular the black ash species, is culturally important to many Native American tribes in their ceremonies and traditional crafts.
The emerald ash borer is a very small but very destructive beetle. Native to China and eastern Asia, the EAB was first detected in southeastern Michigan in the summer of 2002. On this continent, the EAB attacks only ash trees and all ash species-green, white, black and blue- are at risk. This beetle is responsible for the death or decline of tens of millions of ash trees.
For more information on EAB please go to the following link:
For information on the “Burn It Where You Buy It” campaign, please email:
March 31, 2010 marked the last day for highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) surveillance in wild, migratory birds for the 2009 biological year for Wildlife Services (WS). Working cooperatively with all 50 State Wildlife Agencies, 2009 surveillance efforts contributed to active sampling of over 44,500 wild birds in 41 States. Testing of those samples was conducted in 35 laboratories in the National Animal Health Laboratory Network (NAHLN).
Implementation plans for HPAI surveillance for the 2010 biological year, again with working cooperatively with all 50 State Wildlife Agencies, calls for collecting 44,000 samples from at least 36 states. This continued testing acts as a national early detection system for HPAI avian influenza, giving us the ability to rapidly detect this highly infectious pathogen, should it be introduced by wild birds or other sources, and efficiently control its spread.WS began HPAI surveillance by partnering with the NAHLN in April 2006. Since then, a total of over 258,000 wild bird samples have been collected for the early detection of HPAI in wild migratory birds. Initial screenings for all of these samples have been conducted at one of the 35 participating NAHLN labs in the United States. Findings from the surveillance effort include the documentation that HPAI doesn't occur in the U.S. wild bird population, epidemiological data to support increased poultry surveillance and risk analyses, detection of other diseases of concern such as Newcastle disease, and several scientific publications. These cooperative efforts, funded by USDA, set an unprecedented level of surveillance in wildlife and prove useful for protecting the health of U.S. poultry, wildlife, and humans.
More than a dozen biologists and researchers from the APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) program presented studies and practical information at the Berryman Institute’s International Wild Pig Conference in Pensacola in April. An invasive species numbering more than 4 million animals spread throughout more than 35 States, feral swine represent a source of ecological and economic destruction.
WS staff in most States are seeking referrals regarding locations where feral hogs are present and causing damage so they can sample in those areas. Every year WS disease biologists test at least 2,080 feral swine in 32 States for brucellosis, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis and classical swine fever. This cooperative project includes APHIS Veterinary Services, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the National Pork Board and other partners. Farmers or others can report a sighting or learn more about signs of feral swine by calling 1-866-4USDA-WS (1-866-487-3297). In many cases, the WS staff will trap, euthanize and collect samples on site. The feral swine carcass can be left for for consumption if the landowner wishes.Any State willing to help inform the public about the damage and dangers posed by feral swine should contact their respective WS office. APHIS staff has worked with reporters from rural newspapers and the farm bureau to the Associated Press on such stories and looks forward to spreading the story further.
Name: John Kinsella
Title: Eastern Regional Director, Investigative and Enforcement Services
Tell us about your role: My job is very challenging and gratifying because I use all of the formal education I received in the biological sciences, criminal justice, management and human resource development (employee development and training). I oversee the activities of IES in the APHIS Eastern Region. The role of IES is to protect the health and value of American animal, plant and natural resources, while promoting the integrity of APHIS programs by providing effective and efficient investigative and enforcement services. We presently have a staff of 52 Investigators, 5 Area Managers, four administrative support personnel, myself and our Deputy Regional Director, Mr. Willie Harris. I work very closely with Mr. Harris, my Western Region counterpart and the Office of the IES Director. I am a member of the IES Management Team and also a member of the APHIS Eastern Regional Office (AERO) Board of Directors. I am also a member of APHIS" Emergency Management Leadership Council (EMLC). One of the most enjoyable things about working for IES is the diversity in the nature of the work. IES provides investigative support to Animal Care, PPQ, BRS, VS and Customs and Border Protection. That gives us a chance to interact with many program officials and to become involved in many interesting cases involving all kinds of animals, plants and people. IES is a great organization with very dedicated people throughout the organization. We currently have a healthy mix of Investigators based on experience and background. I think IES is a critical component of APHIS because, as a regulatory agency, APHIS needs to have a mechanism to vigorously enforce its regulations. Doing so goes a long way toward the ultimate APHIS goal of "Protecting American Agriculture."
How long have you worked at APHIS: Since 1973
Education: B.S. in biology, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, PA
Most Memorable APHIS experience: Working on a hog cholera task force in New England in the late seventies for about one year. We worked in some unbelievable weather conditions, encountered and overcame some huge obstacles, and had a chance to work with dozens of APHIS employees in different situations. This experience led to many long-lasting friendships.
Priorities for the coming months: Improve the quality of IES Eastern Region investigative reports, improve communication throughout the region, complete all 2009 HPA cases and ensure that we are providing responsive customer service.
Favorite movie: Field of Dreams
Hobbies: Hiking/Walking, Gardening, Reading, Fishing, Watching baseball, classic movies.
All Agency vacancies are posted on the APHIS Web site. To view the entire list of APHIS vacancies go to www.aphis.usda.gov. Under Related Topics click on Find a Job in APHIS. The positions highlighted below are for relevant positions that are at the GS-13 level and above.
Position: Veterinary Medical Officer (Assistant AVIC)
Position: Information Technology (Project Manager)
Position: Interdisciplinary Supervisory Entomologist/Supervisory PPQ Officer
Position: Supervisory Plant Protection and Quarantine Officer
Position: Mathematical Statistician