USDA Missed Logistics Connection

Emerald ash borers, tiny Asian beetles, were first identified in 2002 in the Wayne County area of Detroit. It's another pest species thought to have arrived on our shores, inadvertently, in wooden shipping crates or pallets from China. The suspect transport packaging material was delivered to an industrial park in Wayne County's Canton Township. This occurred before treatment of imported wood packaging material was required, thus allowing the beetles to gain a foothold in the region.

According to a report from U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture made the Great Lakes region's battle against the emerald ash borer even harder by overlooking the odds of foreign pests getting hauled into port cities via cargo shipments and spreading to nearby trees. Pombo had requested an audit by the Government Accountability Office, the taxpayer-funded watchdog agency that works for Congress.

The report said the USDA hasn't focused enough attention on port cities, such as Detroit, Toledo, and Cleveland.

This investigation was limited to that beetle and another invasive pest, the Asian longhorned beetle, plus the fungus that causes Sudden Oak Death. It said the U.S. government had spent a combined $420 million to eradicate that trio as of early 2006.

But the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) appears likely to be the only one that will be driven out. GAO sources claim, if the ALB is in fact eradicated, it will require USDA funding levels to remain constant for at least another eight years.

Source: Government Accountability Office

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