Biologist/Computer Scientist (Bioinformatician)

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ), Science and Technology’s (S&T) Core Functional Area, Beltsville laboratory is a world reference for regulatory plant pathogen diagnostic development, validation, and deployment for the detection of many complex diseases and pathogens that threaten agriculture and native plants.  Additionally, it provides hands-on training as a mechanism of technology transfer to scientists within PPQ programs, the USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) National Plant Diagnostic Network, and other state and Federal diagnostic laboratories. Continue reading

Pecan weevils’ range growing warns AgriLife Extension expert

by Steve Byrnes, Texas A&M AgriLife

Homeowners and pecan orchard operators are urged to watch for pecan weevils that can decimate a crop right up to harvest, said a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service integrated pest management specialist at College Station.

“This is not a new pest, but what is new is that it’s being sighted in areas where it’s never been found,” said Bill Ree. “It’s a serious pest, ranking right up there with the ubiquitous casebearer that hits developing pecans early in the season practically statewide. Pecan weevils hit late in the season when the nuts are ready to be harvested. Continue reading

APHIS Seeks Comments on Draft Pest Risk Assessment for Potato Tubers for Consumption from the United Kingdom

The government of the United Kingdom has asked USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to authorize the importation of potato tubers for consumption into the continental United States.  APHIS has drafted a pest risk assessment that lists potential pests likely to remain on the commodity upon importation if no mitigations are applied.

APHIS shares draft pest risk assessments to determine whether stakeholders have information that might lead us to revise the draft assessment before we identify pest mitigations and proceed with official rulemaking. Continue reading

APHIS Adds All Cut Flowers & Greens to Exempted Host List for Light Brown Apple Moth in California

Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is extending the exemption of select cut flowers and succulents to include all commercially produced cut flowers and greens for the light brown apple moth (LBAM) exempted host list. The exempted host list is posted at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/planthealth/lbam .

“Exempt host commodities” are exempt from the conditions required in the LBAM Federal Domestic Quarantine Order for interstate movement of regulated articles. The exemption is applicable only to commercially-produced commodities based on the pest mitigations provided through industry standards of production, harvesting, and packaging practices for each of the exempted commodities. Commodities that are not produced using these industry practices remain subject to the program requirements for interstate movement. New commodities added to the list are in bold font. Continue reading

Comment Period Reopened for Proposed Rule to Import Lemons from Chile into the US

USDA APHIS is seeking comments on a proposed rule to amend the import requirements on fresh lemon fruit from Chile into the continental United States. The proposed rule will be available for review and the comment period will be reopened for 30 days ending September 26, 2016. Continue reading

USDA Calls for Residents to Check Trees in August, Help Find and Eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle

NOTE: This pest so far is not in any states in the southern region, but several states in the Southeast have a suitable habitat for it.

August is Tree Check Month, the peak time of year when the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) can be found, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is asking residents to help eradicate this invasive pest by looking for signs in their trees. APHIS and local agricultural departments need to be made aware of any infested trees and new outbreaks so they can be quickly contained to keep the beetle from spreading.

The Asian longhorned beetle has the potential to destroy millions of acres of America’s treasured hardwoods, including maple, birch, elm, willow, ash and poplar trees, and others. The beetle is slow to spread on its own during the early stages of an infestation, so early detection and reporting is critical to containing it. People can also help by not moving firewood, which can transport the beetle hidden inside to new areas. Continue reading

APHIS Removes Requirement for Trapping Light Brown Apple Moth at Plant Nurseries in Regulated Areas in California

Effective immediately, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) removes the requirement for trapping for the light brown apple moth (LBAM) on farms and premises that are eligible to move—under certificate—any nursery stock, cut flowers, garlands, wreaths or greenery of any plants, trees and shrubs, and green waste in any of the regulated counties. Continue reading