Cecilia Sequeira, (301) 851-4054
Suzanne Bond, (301) 851-4070
WASHINGTON, April 2, 2021—The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has declared April 2021 as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month (IPPDAM). The national outreach initiative enlists the public in the fight against invasive pests. These damaging invaders threaten our nation’s food crops, forests and natural resources. IPPDAM aims to raise public awareness about this threat, which can devastate agriculture, livelihoods and food security.
In celebration of the United Nations’ International Year of Plant Health, APHIS will partner with the North American Plant Protection Organization and Niagara Falls State Park to hold a special illumination ceremony on April 19-20 from 7-9 p.m. for 15 minutes at the top of every hour (you can watch it live here: https://www.cliftonhill.com/niagara-falls/livecam). The falls will glow with green light to emphasize the need to protect plant health across North America and around the world.
“In this increasingly interconnected and mobile society, it has become even more important for the community to help us protect our agricultural and natural resources from the threat of hitchhiking invasive pests,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas J. Vilsack. “We need your help to stop them before they pose a significant risk. If you see a suspicious plant pest, contact your local USDA State Plant Health Director. You could save a forest, farm or vineyard by making a simple phone call.”
Many invasive plant pests and diseases are natural hitchhikers, making it all too easy for people to unintentionally move them to new areas. Hungry pests can hide in untreated firewood, attach themselves to outdoor gear and recreational vehicles, and even take a ride in the mail. They can also be accidentally moved to new areas via agricultural mediums such as soil, seeds, produce and plants. Invasive pests have no natural predators in their new environments and are more likely to throw their ecosystem off balance than domestic organisms, which have evolved in their native habitats and pose less risk to plant health.
With your help, we can contain the threat of invasive pests and protect American agriculture and natural resources from the pests that threaten them. Here’s what you can do:
Expand your reach. Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter and visit the Hungry Pests website to learn more about invasive plant pests in your area and what you can do to stop them. To learn more about the International Year of Plant Health, visit USDA’s website or follow #PlantHealth and #IYPH on social media.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.