The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a multi-faceted 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.
To protect agricultural health, APHIS is on the job 24 hours a day, 7 days a week working to defend America's animal and plant resources from agricultural pests and diseases. For example, if the Mediterranean fruit fly and Asian longhorned beetle, two major agricultural pests, were left unchecked, they would result in several billions of dollars in production and marketing losses annually. Similarly, if foot-and-mouth disease or highly pathogenic avian influenza were to become established in the United States, foreign trading partners could invoke trade restrictions and producers would suffer devastating losses.
In the event that a pest or disease of concern is detected, APHIS implements emergency protocols and partners with affected States to quickly manage or eradicate the outbreak. This aggressive approach has enabled APHIS to successfully prevent and respond to potential pest and disease threats to U.S. agriculture.
To promote the health of U.S. agriculture in the international trade arena, APHIS develops and advances science-based standards with trading partners to ensure America's agricultural exports, worth more than $50 billion annually, are protected from unjustified restrictions.
In response to needs expressed by the American people and Congress, APHIS' mission has expanded over the years to include such issues as wildlife damage and disease management; regulation of genetically engineered crops and animal welfare; and protection of public health and safety as well as natural resources that are vulnerable to invasive pests and pathogens. While carrying out its diverse protection responsibilities, APHIS makes every effort to address the needs of all stakeholders involved in the U.S. agricultural sector.
Established in 1972, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is a relatively new Agency, but much of the important work that falls under its mission today has been the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for more than 100 years. In fact, for most of the 20th century, the early animal and plant health bureaus within USDA operated independently of one another. The creation of APHIS consolidated these functions. In the years since, the Agency has continued to expand its mission in order protect and preserve American agriculture. >> More