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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA FAQ's and resources about coronavirus (COVID-19).  LEARN MORE

Agriculture Quarantine Inspection

The Agricultural Quarantine Inspection (AQI) program plays a critical role in keeping invasive plant and animal pests and diseases out of the United States. To implement this program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) work together at the Nation’s borders and more than 300 U.S. ports of entry. They carry out all AQI program activities to intercept and keep out any foreign agricultural pests that could affect U.S. agriculture and trade. The scope and scale of this work is vast.

CBP is responsible for the inspection and clearance of: 

  • Private vehicles and their passengers at the borders
  • Pedestrians and their baggage crossing at land borders
  • International passengers and their baggage arriving by air, cruise, rail, and bus
  • Commercial conveyances and their cargo arriving at U.S. ports of entry, including ships, trains, planes, and trucks
  • Private aircraft arriving from international origins
  • Military aircraft and military vessels arriving from overseas
  • International mail and express courier shipments 

PPQ is responsible for: 

  • Developing import regulations, policies, and procedures
  • Inspecting, treating, and pre-clearing agricultural commodities in their country of origin
  • Inspecting live plants and propagative plant material arriving from overseas
  • Identifying pests and diseases found on arriving cargo and conveyances
  • Developing, conducting, and monitoring treatments to control pests and diseases
  • Uncovering new pathways that might bring pests to our shores
  • Analyzing and assessing pest risks to inform the design of import requirements and port-of-entry inspection activities
  • Training APHIS and CBP canines and their handlers to detect and keep plant and animal pests and diseases out of the country
  • Monitoring U.S. markets to find and stop the distribution of smuggled agricultural products
  • Administering user fees that support the operation of the AQI program

Invasive pests can spread through global agricultural trade, and this pest pressure constantly increases. Every year, invasive insects and plant diseases cost the United States about $40 billion in lost crop and forest production. That figure does not include the significant cost to Federal, State, and local government agencies—and farmers and industry—to combat these threats once they have entered our country. Invasive pest and disease incursions can also result in foreign export markets closing to U.S. agricultural products that could be infested or infected. In calendar year 2021, U.S. agricultural exports were worth a record-breaking $177 billion.

Should a foreign animal disease infect U.S. livestock or poultry, the result could be devastating for industry and livelihoods across our country. For example, African swine fever is a foreign animal disease of pigs that has been detected in the Caribbean close to Puerto Rico. This disease threatens the U.S. pork industry. In 2020, pork producers marketed over 131 million hogs, which provided total cash receipts of more than $19 billion, and provided about 28 billion pounds of meat to consumers worldwide.

The AQI program protects U.S. economic value measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars—and more. In fact, agriculture, food, and related industries contributed nearly $1.1 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020, a 5-percent share.


In calendar year 2021, U.S. agricultural exports were worth $177 billion, setting a new record.


In 2020, 19.7 million full- and part-time jobs were related to the agricultural and food sectors—10.3 percent of total U.S. employment.

Every $1 billion of U.S. agricultural exports in 2017 required approximately 8,400 American jobs throughout the economy. At $138 billion in 2017, agricultural exports required more than 1.2 million full-time civilian jobs.

Agricultural Production

The total value of U.S. agricultural production is $389 billion, roughly split evenly between:

  • Crops: Grains and oilseeds, fruits, tree nuts, berries, vegetables, nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, sod, other crops and hay, cotton, tobacco, Christmas trees, and woody crops.
  • Livestock: Cattle and calves, poultry and eggs, milk, hogs and pigs, aquaculture, horses, ponies, mules, other animals and animal products, sheep, goats, wool, and mohair.

Plant pests and diseases also threaten forest, woodland, and rangeland plants species.

The United States is home to tremendous natural resources, including 823 million acres of forests and woodlands.

The U.S. forest products industry accounts for approximately 4 percent of the Nation’s total manufacturing GDP, producing over $200 billion in products every year.

Recreation activities on national forests and grasslands contribute approximately $14.5 billion annually to the U.S. economy and help to sustain an estimated 223,000 jobs in rural areas.

Urban trees can reduce energy used for heating and cooling by $5.4 billion every year while producing 67 million tons of oxygen.

The value of Western rangeland has been estimated at between $10.7 billion to $21.2 billion in terms of 4 measures: livestock forage, carbon sequestration, recreation, and general ecosystem services (e.g., enhancing plant and animal biodiversity and protecting grassland against development pressure).

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released the 2022 – 2026 Joint Agency Strategic Plan for their shared Agricultural Quarantine Inspection program.

The plan has three goals:

  • Apply risk-based approaches to identify and target high-risk pathways and align resources
  • Enhance program management and infrastructure
  • Strengthen partnerships and enhance outreach efforts with trade entities to advance compliance

The three goals we chose are meant to address multiple key areas of program management: the mission; program infrastructure; and key partnerships we can leverage through communication. The strategic plan will guide program activities and set the program’s focus for the next 5 years, driving planning and setting mission priorities. Read the plan.

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