The staff of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) at the United States Embassy in Mexico City, in conjunction with our colleagues at the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Mexico office, represent the interests of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Mexico. The APHIS office plays a unique role in both the protection of U.S. agriculture and in the facilitation of safe trade between both countries.
Growing agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico has created a vital role for APHIS ensuring that new trade opportunities are realized and that existing trade between the two economies flows smoothly. The APHIS Mexico City office maintains technical working relationships with our Mexican counterparts to resolve Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) issues whenever they arise.
In addition, our office maintains direct contact with industry trade groups. This relationship contributes to maintaining the success of agricultural trade-related commercial activities between the two economies, helping ensure that they thrive. For example, APHIS provides certification at origin of a large number of Mexican commodities exported to the U.S., seeks to expand and maintain market access for U.S. agricultural products and also intervenes directly for shipments detained at Mexican ports of entry.
A principle role of APHIS is to make sure the United States and our trading partners adhere to the SPS rules set forth by the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as the other relevant international standards-setting organizations, APHIS' role will continue to increase as the United States and Mexico continue to expand their current trade relationships and establish new partnerships into the foreseeable future.
A final but critical function of our APHIS office is to help protect U.S. agriculture from the establishment and/or spread of harmful plant pests and animal diseases where our office works in close cooperation with our Mexican plant and animal health counterparts and key industry groups in a number of areas of mutual interest and benefit. Because of a long, shared common border with similar agricultural production, climatic and environmental factors, the two countries have demonstrated a very successful history of working collaboratively since the 1940's with the eradication of Foot and Mouth Disease in livestock. More recently, both sides collaborate on fruit fly control and eradication, cotton pest eradication and in Citrus Greening disease monitoring and through the development of control strategies. On the animal side, APHIS cooperates in providing technical assistance and enhanced diagnostics of foreign animal diseases such as High Pathogenic Avian Influenza and Classical Swine Fever including the control of bovine tuberculosis and cattle fever ticks in livestock and with efforts to control rabies in wildlife.
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a multifaceted Agency with a broad mission area that includes protecting and promoting U.S. agricultural health, regulating genetically engineered organisms, administering the Animal Welfare Act and carrying out wildlife damage management activities. These efforts support the overall mission of USDA, which is to protect and promote food, agriculture, natural resources and related issues.
Lou Vanechanos, Regional Manager
Countries of Responsibility: Mexico
May 5, 2017 - Feral swine present a major threat to the environment and natural resources in many countries. These swine – also known as wild hogs – root up and damage crops, carry bacterial diseases and parasites, destroy birds’ nests and the animal habitats, and cause more than $1.5 billion dollars in damage to property and agriculture every year in the United States.
Reducing the damage from feral swine is a major program for APHIS, and International Services (IS) works closely with Veterinary Services (VS) and Wildlife Services (WS). Because feral swine cross the U.S.-Mexican border, the two countries cooperate on combatting this threat.
On April 5 and 6, 2017 seven officials including two veterinarians from IS Mexico City, Luis Lecuona and Meztli Mendez, as well as representatives from WS, Mexico’s National Commission of Natural Protected Areas, and Mexico National University’s School of Veterinary Science of the Mexican National University attended a feral swine damage management training workshop in Laredo, TX., to provide training and information to 36 representatives from Mexican federal and state agencies and organizations affected by the presence of feral swine.
Attendees discussed other feral swine control procedures including different types of individual and corral tramps, hunting, hunting over bait, hunting at night, hunting with dogs, trapping/snares, fencing, and advanced control methods such as poisoning and immuno-contraception) that were developed in United States. Attendees noted that some methods discussed, such as the use of shotguns and helicopters, might not be available or feasible in Mexico, but that it was necessary to know about them.
The training collaboration developed out of an APHIS National Program and a Memorandum of Understanding signed in October 2015. IS coordinates the MOU collaboration for APHIS. The MOU seeks to integrate the taskforce groups that train field personnel from Mexico’s border region to identify the presence of feral swine and damage as well as to develop control measurements and the early monitoring and disease surveillance.
As part of these efforts, IS Mexico City, Mexico, worked with the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science (FMVZ) of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) to develop a series of workshops to share their experiences and ideas. The goal is to show the attendees all procedures for feral swine damage control developed in the United States as part of the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program as a reference for the Mexican counterparts, so they can develop their own control methods.
The March 2017 workshop builds on previous work conducted during a May 30 to June 3, 2016 workshop in Mexico City. During that event, Lecuona and Michael Bodenchuk from WS described steps the United States is taking for feral swine control, particularly building corral traps to trap the animals for removal or slaughter.
“The workshops have proved to be very successful, and additional ones are being planned,” said Lecuona. Future workshops will focus on efforts to reduce feral swine and monitor damage and diseases in Mexico’s northern border states.
June 15, 2017 - While vampire bats have no presence in the United States yet, their ability to carry the rabies virus and cross borders, and their presence in Mexico, makes them a threat to U.S. cattle and other domestic productive species, including sheep, horses, pigs, dogs, cats, and wildlife. Damage to livestock potentially can run into the millions of dollars.
Evidence that vampire bats are moving north and will eventually enter the United States calls for close collaboration between American authorities and their Mexican counterparts to counter the potential threat. As part of these efforts, from March 20th to 24th, 2017, staff from International Services (IS)’s Mexico City office coordinated the attendance of specialists from APHIS Wildlife Services (WS) in Arizona and Mexico City, the University of Arizona, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Colorado at a workshop in Campeche, Mexico organized by the Mexico’s agricultural and food safety agencies, SENASICA (National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality) and SAGARPA (State Agency of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food).
During this event, the visitors learned about the importance and impact of the campaign against paralytic rabies transmitted by vampire bats to cattle and other domesticanimals, including goats, sheep, horses, and pigs. A technical meeting was also held to review the status of the vampire bat rabies problem in Mexico’s Campeche state, as well as the physical and behavioral characteristics of the vampire bats and the management activities developed in Mexico to reduce their impact in the animal and public health.
The participants visited two caves, which are the bats’ natural refuge, and conducted two field activities to trap and treat vampire bats in corrals. All the goals for this training were reached according with the agenda and all participants agreed that this kind of training is very useful for the APHIS field staff that could be responsible for controlling this problem and ensuring the safeguarding and security of U.S. agricultural resources in the future in the United States.