As former administrators of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), we have firsthand knowledge of how destructive animal and plant pests and diseases can be. Disease and pest introductions are a threat to food availability and can cost billions of dollars to control and eradicate.
The desert locust, generally considered one of the most devastating pests in the world to agriculture, has been hitting farmers hard in the Horn of Africa as well as the Arabian Peninsula for six months, devouring crops and pasture. With COVID-19, the situation has gone from bad to worse.
The Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Inspection Service is creating a National Incident Coordination Center to help producers who cannot take animals to market as meat processing facilities close due to COVID-19.
The Department of Agriculture has confirmed the detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza for the first time since 2017. The H7N3 strain of the disease was detected in a South Carolina commercial turkey flock.