Plant and crop security is the protection of economically significant crops and natural resources from potential threats. Protecting U.S. agricultural and natural resources from attack by invasive species and diseases is the responsibility of:

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – A division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), APHIS has a number of programs in place (see University and National Agency Links below) to protect agriculture. Continuous enhancements of these federal programs focus on increasing surveillance and the capacity of pest and disease diagnostic systems.

Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) – As a program of APHIS, PPQ inspectors work across the country at more than 100 ports-of-entry, screening imported agricultural products and materials for exotic pests or diseases.  APHIS/PPQ establishes the scientific rules and protocols for testing as well as performs diagnoses.

Farmers, Crop Consultants, and Extension Specialists – These individuals can and do serve as “first detectors.” They should watch for, recognize and know how to report plant and crop abnormalities. In addition, plant and crop security is enhanced if they stay up to date on established, emerging and potential threats – as well as have an understanding of biological and chemical agents – that could negatively affect key crops and natural resources or harm consumers.

National Networks, Centers and Boards
The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) is made up of plant and pest experts from the nation’s Land-Grant universities and state laboratories. The network is charged with providing a cohesive system to detect pests and pathogens that have been intentionally or unintentially introduced into agricultural and natural ecosystems, identifying them quickly, and reporting them to appropriate responders and decision makers.  Through  training and use of diagnostic equipment and communication, enables university laboratories to extend the capacity of the federal laboratory system. It is important in reducing overload of the federal laboratory system when a plant/pest outbreak occurs and the number of samples submitted for diagnosis skyrockets.

The NPDN has five regional centers, each of which has a support function for the national network, in addition to providing information unique to its region:

  • Great Plains Diagnostic Network (Kansas State Univ.)
  • North Central Plant Diagnostic Network (Michigan State Univ.)
  • Northeastern Plant Diagnostic Network (Cornell Univ.)
  • Southern Plant Diagnostic Network (Univ. of Florida)
  • Western Plant Diagnostic Network (Univ. of California, Davis)

The Integrated Pest Management Centers are USDA regional centers that, through collaborative networks, inform public and private sector interests about emerging issues and identify farmers’ needs and priorities. Working with cooperating Land-Grant institutions, these centers strengthen the connection between production agriculture, research, Extension programs, and agricultural stakeholders throughout the United States. The regions and institutional hosts of their websites are as follows:
North Central Region (Michigan State Univ.)
Northeastern Region (Penn State Univ. & Cornell Univ.)
Southern Region (Univ. of Florida)
Western Region (Univ. of California, Davis)
The National Plant Board is an organization of the plant pest regulatory agencies of each state and Puerto Rico. National Plant Board members work cooperatively with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), APHIS, U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and Agriculture Research Service (ARS) to prevent the entry of new pests and diseases into the country.

Featured Resources

Emerging Pests (PPQ)
A continually updated site on new plant pest issues and links to new pest outbreak situations where regulatory actions are necessary.

Commercial Floriculture (NCState)
An information center on crop and floriculture topics.

Agrichemical and Environmental News
A monthly report on environmental and pesticide related issues from Washington State University

A gateway to federal and state invasive species activities and programs.

University & National Agency Links
Extension & Land-Grant Universities
North Carolina State University:
Commercial Floriculture
Plant Disease Information Notes
Oklahoma State University
Purdue University
University of Illinois
University of Minnesota: Minnesota Soybean Production

Agencies & Associations
Animal and Plant Health Issues (APHIS)
Hot Issues
Plant Protection & Quarantine (PPQ)
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
U.S. Forest Service
American Phytopathological Society (APSnet)
Weed Science Society of America
Entomological Society of America
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture

Threats to U.S. Crops
Detecting and identifying abnormalities in plants or crops is essential when bringing control to a potential threat. The following resources provide up-to-date information on a variety of biological agents and pests. Materials cover proper methods for identification, as well as what is being done to combat existing, emerging and potential agents.

Select Agents
Select agents are biological agents (viruses, bacteria and fungi) known to exist outside the U.S. and thought to pose a severe threat to American agriculture if introduced here. The Plant Protection and Quarantine program has placed nine of these agents on a watch list because of their potential threat to a number of nationally important agronomic crops, including potatoes, rice, soybeans, corn, citrus, and stone fruit.

Other Information and Resources
Emerging Pests — USDA-APHIS-PPQ
Watch this site for new plant pest issues and links to new pest outbreak situations where regulatory actions are necessary.

Training Opportunities for First Detectors
EDEN has  an online course called Plant Biosecurity Management.
The course is geared toward Extension educators and specialists. However, it is readily usable by agricultural and horticultural producers who have an interest or responsibility in plant biosecurity.
The course consists of six lessons that focus on:

  • the threat of both intentional and unintentional introduction of pests and pathogens to crops;
  • how to mitigate plant biosecurity hazards and security risks to farm operations and agribusinesses;
  • how to prepare for a rapid and appropriate response to a suspected plant biosecurity problem;
  • what recovery activities to expect in the event a plant biosecurity problem is confirmed; and
  • how to reduce the impact of a biosecurity event on humans, crops, property, and the environment.

EDEN developed the course so that local Extension educators can use it to present to farmers, crop producers and agribusiness personnel.  More people at the local level being aware of proper agricultural plant and crop biosecurity measures increases the possibility of early detection.

Additional Resources

Plant and Crop-Specific Links
USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Hot Issues
Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ)
Center for Plant Health Science and Technology (CPHST)
Invasive Species and Pest Management
PPQ-Emergency Programs
Bioterrorism Act of 2002 Plant Select Agent List
USDA: Disaster Assistance
All Hazards
USDA Disaster Assistance Programs
USDA Secretarial Disaster Designation Database
USDA: Farm Service Agency (FSA)
USDA: Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Plant Science Institute
Systematic Botany and Mycology Lab
Systematic Entomology Lab
USDA Forest Service
National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN)
Great Plains (GPDN)
Northeast (NEPDN)
Southern (SPDN)
Western (WPDN)
North Central (NCPDN)
National Agricultural Pest Informaiton System (NAPIS)
Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS)
CAB International Crop Pendium

General Agrosecurity Links
USDA: Beagle Brigade
USDA: Travelers’ Information
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
Border Management