Invasive pests cause $220 billion in trade losses every year


FILE – In this Oct. 13, 2019, file photo a farmer harvests soybeans in a field near Concordia, Mo. On Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, the Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for December. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)

WASHINGTON (WLNS) – Plants give us 80 percent of the food we eat, according to a press release by the United States Department of Agriculture.

Michigan’s food and agriculture industry generates more than $104 billion of total economic activity for Michigan each year as well as employing 805,000 Michigan residents.

There are nearly 10 million acres of farmland in Michigan, and the state is home to 50,900 farms averaging 195 acres each.

Unfortunately invasive pests destroy up to 40 percent of the world’s food crops and cause $220 billion in trade losses each year, according to the United Nations.

These food losses leave millions of people worldwide without enough food to eat as well as seriously damaging the primary source of income for rural communities.

The U.N. has declared 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health and are calling on people, organizations, industries, scientists, as well as governments to work together to protect plants against the introduction and spread of invasive pests.

“At USDA, we do all we can for our farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers so that they can continue to feed and clothe this nation and the world,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach. “Protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost effective than the alternative.”

According to USDA, everyone can help avoid the devastating impact of pests and diseases on agriculture, livelihoods, and food security.

Look for and report unusual signs of pests or disease in trees and plants to your local state plant health director, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and even Land-Grant Universities such as the Michigan State University, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources.

Buy heat-treated firewood or responsibly gather wood near the place it will be burned to ensure tree-killing beetles hiding inside can’t spread to new areas.

Contact your local state office before you buy seeds or plants online from other countries to find out if they need to be inspected.

Always declare food, plants, or other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection when returning from international travel so they can make sure these items are free of pests.

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