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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Safeguarding Continuum

To protect American farms and forests from harmful plant pests and foreign animal diseases, USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) has created a system of safeguards that begins overseas in other countries, continues through U.S. ports of entry, and extends across the Nation. It’s called the Safeguarding Continuum. All along the continuum, PPQ experts assess risks associated with pests that hitchhike on and in the agricultural products we import. They also take action in the right time and place to protect U.S. agriculture and natural resources while keeping international trade and travel moving.

Here’s how it works:

Around the World


PHYTOSANITARY ISSUES MANAGEMENT

We work with countries around the world to establish fair, science-based plant health requirements for imported and exported commodities.

RISK AND PATHWAY ANALYSIS AND TARGETING

We analyze data from around the world to figure out which pests could harm U.S. agriculture, how they might get here, and what we need to do to keep them out of the United States.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS SETTING

We work with over 180 countries and international organizations to harmonize rules of trade in agricultural products to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive pests and diseases, and to facilitate safe trade.

OFFSHORE PROGRAMS

We work with foreign countries to address pest threats where they originate. This includes inspecting and certifying fruits, vegetables, bulbs, and plants in 23 countries, and working with the U.S. military to inspect and certify equipment and household goods, all before they ship to the United States.

At the Border


IMPORT REQUIREMENTS AND PERMITTING

We develop science-based regulations and issue import permits that detail requirements and conditions for safely importing a wide variety of agricultural products into the United States.

INTERNATIONAL PASSENGER AND CARGO CLEARANCE

We train U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel who clear the cargo, trains, trucks, ships, mail, and express packages that cross our borders to make sure they don’t bring unwanted pests into our country. We also establish and enforce handling
and disposal requirements for food and agricultural products removed from passenger aircraft and ships arriving from foreign locations.

DOMESTIC PASSENGER AND CARGO CLEARANCE

We inspect all U.S. mainland-bound aircraft, cargo, and traveler bags from Hawaii and Puerto Rico to keep unwanted pests from hitchhiking along.

PEST IDENTIFICATION AND RISK MITIGATION

We identify plant pests and diseases found in imported shipments at U.S. ports of entry and determine what actions to take to reduce or eliminate the threat posed by intercepted pests or diseases.

LIVE PLANT INSPECTION

We inspect live plants, plant cuttings, and seeds arriving in the United States. We also enforce the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and work with others to combat illegal timber trade.

PORT ENVIRONS SURVEYS

We monitor areas around U.S. ports of entry for signs of pests that may have escaped into the environment.

Across the Nation


METHODS DEVELOPMENT

We use the latest science and technology to develop methods for detecting, identifying, and keeping harmful plant pests and diseases out of this country.

TRADE COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT

We analyze import data, conduct risk-based inspections, and work with other government agencies to stop the entry and distribution of unlawful agricultural goods that could bring harmful plant pests or animal disease into this country.

EXPORT CERTIFICATION

We work with State and county partners to inspect and certify plants and plant products being shipped to markets overseas.

PLANT QUARANTINE PROGRAMS

We offer a number of plant quarantine programs to growers, breeders, and scientists who wish to import prohibited or high-risk plant materials for improving U.S. agriculture. Through these programs, we test, clean, and monitor imported plants to ensure they are pest and disease free before they can enter into production.

PEST SURVEILLANCE AND RESPONSE

We work with State departments of agriculture and others to continuously scan the U.S. landscape and quickly find and respond to new pests and diseases before they can cause large-scale damage to our Nation’s farms and forests.

PEST MANAGEMENT

When a foreign pest becomes established in the United States, we work closely with Federal, State, Tribal, and industry partners to control and, when possible, eliminate them from our country.

CROSS-CUTTING SERVICES

Underpinning all of our work are the services of our professional staff who are responsible for administration, budget, communication, information technology, and training
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