Dec. 20., 2017 - The Screwworm Barrier Maintenance Program in Panama (COPEG), managed by International Services (IS) Action Programs, plays a major role in safeguarding the U.S. livestock industry by keeping the screwworm, a harmful pest that attacks warm-blooded animals, out of the United States. Working out of the Program’s facility in Pacora, Panama, IS specialists work to keep this harmful pest from returning to the United States.
USDA Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Ted McKinney, visited the Pacora facility on December 1, 2017. During the visit, Under Secretary McKinney received a briefing on the Program’s capabilities and successes from Program Director Dr. Antonio Arroyave and Plant Director Gwen Keller.
They explained the core processes of sterile fly production, sterile fly dispersal, and field surveillance, describing how the COPEG Program produces 20 million flies per week, sterilizes them using radioactive cobalt-60, and then disperses them from aircraft to create a large buffer zone of sterile flies in eastern Panama to prevent reinvasion of fertile screwworm from South America. The field surveillance program includes veterinarians and field inspectors who monitor farms and livestock and investigate and respond to screwworm and other myiasis cases as they occur in Panama.
Following the visit to Panama, McKinney visited Colombia from November 27 - 29. During his visit, the IS Bogota, Colombia office provided logistical and technical support, including extensive briefings and background information on the current trade environment, for the highly successful visit. The visit focused on recent trade facilitation success spearheaded by APHIS, specifically for U.S. rice exports to Colombia and Colombian avocado exports to the U.S.
At McKinney’s meetings with Colombia’s Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Commerce, IS supported the technical discussions on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)-related trade topics, including the use of irradiation as a phytosanitary treatment for items being exported to the United States. IS also assisted during discussions on creating, expanding, and maintaining markets for U.S. agricultural products.
The visit to Colombia followed McKinney’s November 19 -21 visit to Brazil, where the IS Brasilia office briefed him on SPS issues, including market access for U.S. pork and the recently released pest risk assessment on Brazilian citrus.