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Message from PPQ Deputy Administrator Osama El-Lissy

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I am writing you today with mixed emotions as I announce that my tenure as Deputy Administrator of USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program is coming to an end. My last day will be Dec. 31, 2021.

I am grateful that Mark Davidson, Associate Administrator of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), has agreed to act as Deputy Administrator in the short term until my position is filled. Having served in several senior executive roles in APHIS’ Veterinary Services, Marketing and Regulatory Programs Business Programs, and Office of the Administrator, Dr. Davidson brings a wealth of first-hand knowledge about PPQ’s mission, programs, and priorities. With the support of the PPQ Management Team, our organization will be in very capable hands.

I cannot adequately express how honored, humbled, and grateful I am to have helped fulfill PPQ’s noble mission: safeguarding U.S. agriculture and natural resources against the entry, establishment, and spread of economically and environmentally significant pests and facilitating the safe trade of agricultural products. I had the pleasure of serving for almost 22 years with cooperators and stakeholders from across the U.S. agricultural sector. It has been my pleasure to have forged strong relationships with producers, businesses, industry associations, nongovernmental organizations, trading partners, government agencies at all levels, Extension, academia, and many segments of the public.

The truth is that PPQ cannot fully succeed without your help, and together, we have accomplished so much. On the safeguarding side of our mission, we have eradicated an impressive list of invasive plant pests and diseases:

  • 2021: The giant African snail from Florida, protecting the State’s multi-billion-dollar nursery industry and many of its valuable fruit and vegetable crops
  • 2020: Ralstonia solanacearum race 3 biovar 2 pathogen from U.S. greenhouses; during a plant health emergency response, PPQ and our State partners eradicated the disease from more than 650 facilities in 44 States, protecting the U.S. potato industry worth approximately $4 billion annually
  • 2019: Plum pox virus from the United States, which protects 1.3 million acres of commercial stone fruit orchards, whose crops are worth $6.8 billion annually
  • 2018: Pink bollworm from commercial U.S. cotton, ending a 101-year-old battle with one of the world’s most damaging cotton pests and protecting U.S. cotton production worth $27 billion annually
  • 2016: European grapevine moth from the United States, protecting California’s annual $4 billion grape crop and its $57 billion economic impact statewide
  • Over the past 5 years: 38 exotic fruit fly outbreaks in the United States, over 90 percent of outbreaks; these actions under the fruit fly program have protected over 50 commodities worth more than $25 billion in U.S. agricultural production

On the safe trade side of PPQ’s mission, we have worked diligently to negotiate critical plant health agreements and resolve plant health barriers to open, expand, and retain U.S. export markets. In just the past 5 years, PPQ has worked with industry to achieve new market access for U.S. commodities worth over $1.5 billion. A critical part of this effort was the U.S.-China Phase One Economic and Trade Agreement. As a result of these efforts, the United States achieved access to China for the following products: U.S. barley grain, worth $660 million; U.S. horticultural products, worth $97 million; and U.S. animal feed, worth initially $10 million—a total gain of $800 million.

These collective accomplishments just scratch the surface. Similar successes will continue in 2022 and well beyond thanks to the innovation, talent, and dedication of PPQ’s workforce and leadership. PPQ will continue to collaborate with our stakeholders to ensure U.S. agriculture stays healthy and thrives economically.

My tenure as Deputy Administrator has been the most meaningful and rewarding chapter of my life to date. It has been a pleasure meeting and getting to know so many of you and serving you to the best of my ability.

Have a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year!


Dr. Osama El-Lissy
Deputy Administrator
Plant Protection and Quarantine

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

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