On the second day of the agriculture stakeholder conference, panel discussions and breakout sessions were held on how Federal, State, and private organizations can maintain and enhance effective plant pest and foreign animal disease exclusion and eradication efforts. The sessions identified best practices and mechanisms to improve joint implementation at the local level.
This morning's panel discussion revolved around ways that APHIS, CBP, and the trade can work together to conduct outreach to improve public awareness for pest and disease exclusion. The goal is to obtain a personal investment from all stakeholders to increase the voluntary compliance with agricultural quarantine policies by both the trade and the traveling public.
The candid feedback from the stakeholders on these issues will provide CBP and APHIS with valuable information on what is working today and with new ideas for improving the agriculture mission for tomorrow.
Rebecca Blue, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture also spoke to the conference attendees, "It's a pleasure to see so many people ready to engage in a dialogue. As you know, this stakeholder conference is titled 'Pests, Pathways, and Partnerships.' We are particularly hoping to emphasize the partnership part of that equation today. USDA and the Department of Homeland Security have a longstanding partnership, and I hope that the bond and sense of cooperation will become even stronger through these meetings and discussions."
In his remarks at the end of the conference, Acting Assistant Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan let the attendees know that, "You have the full support and backing of CBP's leadership at every level. Our combined mission to prevent the introduction and establishment of exotic plant pests and foreign animal diseases at our borders fully integrates the Agriculture mission into U.S Customs and Border Protection's primary mission of preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control and protection of our nation's borders at and between the official ports of entry. CBP is charged with keeping terrorists and terrorist weapons out of the country while enforcing hundreds of U.S. laws.