LANSING — The United Nations has declared 2020 as “The International Year of Plant Health” – a campaign aimed at bringing attention to the devastating effect invasive pests and diseases have on our natural resources, agriculture, jobs and food security.
To help raise awareness on how Michiganders can prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) and the United States Department of Agriculture have recognized April as Invasive Plant Pest and Disease Awareness Month.
“People unintentionally move pests to new areas. Pests can easily spread by hitching rides on outdoor gear, vehicles, and untreated firewood,” said Mike Philip, Director of MDARD’s Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. “They can also hide in or on fresh produce, soil, seeds and plants.”
Here are some simple steps everyone should take to help limit the spread of invasive species:
- Learn to spot invasive pests posing a threat to plants and agriculture in your area. Report signs of invasive plant pests and diseases to MDARD through the Michigan Invasive Species website or at 800-292-3939.
- Don’t move untreated firewood. Buy heat-treated firewood or buy wood where you burn it to avoid unintentionally spreading species that hide inside untreated firewood.
- When returning from international travel, declare food, plants and other agricultural items to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to ensure these items are pest-free.
- Before buying seeds or plants online from out-of-state vendors, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939 to ask if they need to be inspected or meet other conditions to bring them into Michigan legally and without pests.
“Each year, invasive pests destroy up to 40 percent of food crops around the world and cause billions of dollars in production and trade losses,” added Philip.
Visit the Michigan Invasive Species website to find photos and information about invasive plant pests in Michigan and contact information to report pests in your community. To learn more about the International Year of Plant Health, visit USDA’s website or follow #PlantHealth and #IYPH2020 on social media.
— Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
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