WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2010 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is today announcing the opening of a new plant inspection station in Miami, Fla.
“APHIS personnel are on the front line each day, inspecting agricultural commodities, detecting plant pests and diseases, and mitigating these threats before they can endanger Florida's agriculture and natural resources,” said Edward Avalos, USDA's undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. “The new Miami facility will better enable us to protect and safeguard Florida's high-value agriculture industry and precious natural environment.”
The new $25 million, state-of-the-art facility was built to meet the increasing demand for plant inspection and processing services. The Miami facility is the busiest plant inspection station in the United States, handling 78.5 percent of all propagative plant material imported into the United States in 2009. The original facility was no longer able to handle the volume of plant materials received at the Miami port on a daily basis. The square footage of the new facility is more than double the size of the previous plant inspection station. The update will enable APHIS to better meet the needs of importers and protect Florida's $87 billion agriculture industry and natural resources from foreign plant pests and diseases.
APHIS is charged with safeguarding agricultural and natural resources from the risks associated with the entry, establishment and spread of exotic plant pests, diseases, pathogens, and noxious weeds. To carry out this mission, APHIS' plant protection and quarantine (PPQ) program inspects plants that are mailed, carried and shipped into the United States by brokers, travelers and nursery owners. APHIS' plant health safeguarding specialists inspect the plants at one of 17 plant inspection stations, including the Miami facility, at ports of entry throughout the country including major international airports and seaports and key crossings along the U.S.-Mexican border.
At the plant inspection stations, PPQ officials inspect shipments of plants, cuttings and seeds. Officials also review all associated permits and documentation to ensure that these shipments comply with import regulations and that any pest or disease risks are sufficiently mitigated. PPQ also enforces the rules and regulations that apply to the import and export of plant species protected by the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Through its activities at plant inspection stations, as well as other monitoring and safeguarding activities overseas, on the border and across the country, APHIS works to ensure the health and safety of America's agriculture and natural resources. APHIS works closely with its partners at the federal, state, county and local levels, and at universities and nongovernmental organizations.
Individual citizens also play a vital role in detecting and fighting invasive pests and diseases. To raise public awareness about these threats, APHIS has declared August as “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.” Throughout the month, APHIS employees across the country will give presentations and provide information on invasive pests, the damage they cause and what APHIS is doing to prevent their entry into the country and to stop their spread once they are here. To learn more about what you can do to protect America's agriculture and natural resources from invasive plant pests, visit HungryPests.com.
For more information about plant inspection stations, visit
To learn more about APHIS' Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month activities, visit http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/content/
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