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Our noble mission here at APHIS is to safeguard the health and value of American agriculture and natural resources. To be truly successful in this endeavor, we need global awareness of the ever-present pest and disease risks that threaten the livelihood of farmers and ranchers here in the United States and around the world.
The United Nations General Assembly understands all that is at stake and has declared 2020 the International Year of Plant Health to help bring greater attention to the vital role plant health plays in ending hunger, reducing poverty, protecting the environment and boosting economic development.
We realize 2020 is still a few weeks away, but this topic is near and dear to our hearts. I’m pleased to share some of the ways we are already planning to celebrate the International Year of Plant Health in the coming year.
First, we’ve launched a new website to share information about the International Year of Plant Health, why it’s important and how you can get involved. We will continue to update and add to this website throughout the year ahead.
This site is also the best way to learn more about our Safeguarding 2020 Conference, a 3-day event planned for August 18-20, 2020, here in Washington, D.C. that will look at plant health safeguarding and trade challenges as well as opportunities facing the United States, the North American region and the world at large. The event will bring together leaders from U.S. government agencies, industry and academia, as well as domestic and international NGOs, foreign governments, and private companies. I want to thank our industry, government and academia working group members who started meeting earlier this fall to help us identify engaging and relevant topics for this groundbreaking event.
At the conference, we will explore the agriculture supply chain from a plant health perspective and learn about new and emerging methods, tools, and technologies that could be used to safeguard plant health and facilitate safe trade. We will do all of this with the singular goal of identifying strategic activities and investments that public and private entities could undertake to ensure sustainable and profitable agriculture, healthy forests and ecosystems, and a safe and prosperous global trade system in the next decade.
We also plan to conduct outreach and engagement activities throughout the year to raise public awareness about why plant health is so important and generate a greater understanding of how the introduction of plant pests and diseases hurts more than just farmers.
We know that many of you will also be planning and carrying out your own activities to mark the International Year of Plant Health, and we want to hear about them. We’ve started a calendar of events on our website and would like to include your events, too. Our goal is to highlight and encourage broad participation in all of the plant health-related activities taking place in the United States in 2020.
As the International Year of Plant Health begins in earnest, we’ll have more news and announcements to share. We hope you’ll join us in finding ways to celebrate and promote the global importance of plant health.