Agricultural pests can harm U.S.

Robert Szostek
U.S. European Command customs office

Customs agents checking for dirt on shipped items

Customs agents are concerned over European agricultural pests that are not native to the United States, but can reproduce in soil. If the pests, namely the nematode, enter the United States, they could cause great damage to the farming economy.

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture officials, pests can easily be introduced into the United States. Vehicles and military equipment are especially prone to infestation by dirt, mud and soil.

“It only takes one little bit of soil on your car, lawn furniture, bicycle, shoe, boot, coat or field gear, said William Manning, U.S. Department of Agriculture attaché to the European Command.”

“For example, the burrowing nematode is a tiny un-segmented worm not native to the states, but could hide in the mud on your boots,” Manning explained. “If you took that mud stateside, the nematode eggs could later hatch and attack the roots of citrus trees.”

Losses on infested trees cost approximately $2.5 million annually. The golden nematode attacks potatoes and tomatoes reducing yields by as much as 80 percent. It threatens annual crop yields of more than $1 billion.

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