News Release
California Department of Food and Agriculture
Media Contacts:
Steve Lyle, CDFA Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462
SECRETARY KAWAMURA JOINS USDA IN DEDICATING AUGUST TO INVASIVE SPECIES AWARENESS
CDFA
Release #10-035
SACRAMENTO, August 4, 2010 – CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura is joining the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in recognizing August as “Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.”  Beginning this year, APHIS will engage the public each August to increase understanding about the risks that invasive plant pests, diseases and harmful weeds pose to America’s agricultural and natural resources.

“Invasive species are one of the biggest problems we face,” said Secretary Kawamura. “We must work together to limit our exposure and minimize impacts. I applaud the USDA for making this commitment. It may be the boost we need to bring this issue to a whole new level of awareness.” 

Invasive species cause—or are likely to cause—harm to the economy, the environment and human health.  Foreign travel and ship cargo are two of the risk factors for allowing dangerous plants, animals and microorganisms to enter the country.  Many of these pests and diseases have seriously harmed industry and urban and rural landscapes and have caused billions of dollars in lost revenue and control costs.  Some scientists estimate that the economic impacts from invasive species exceed $1 billion annually in the United States, in addition to the damage they cause to hundreds of millions of acres of native ecosystems and associated native plants and animals.
 
“Preventing foreign pests and diseases from entering the United States is my agency’s number one priority,” said APHIS Administrator Cindy Smith.  “These destructive pests can jeopardize the livelihood of our farmers, ranchers and foresters, and they can forever alter our natural landscape.  We’re dedicating the month of August to raising public awareness about these threats, and we’re asking every American who can to help us fight invasive pests.”

Throughout the month, there will be presentations across the country on invasive pests, the damage they cause, and what Americans can do to prevent their entry into the country and stop their spread once they are here.  The activities will include an invasive species forum in California designed to bring a wide variety of stakeholders together to discuss invasive plant pest issues and potential actions for jointly addressing those risks.

Individual citizens play a vital role protecting U.S. agriculture and the environment from invasive pests. For more information, please see the following web links: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/plant_health/content/printable_version/attack_of_the_invasive_species.pdf. or www.HungryPests.com.

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California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814
916-654-0462, www.cdfa.ca.gov