HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The United States Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is launching a new campaign to urge travelers to help protect our nation's agricultural and natural resources by making informed choices about the foods, plants, animal products and handicrafts they bring into the United States from their travels abroad.
Experts estimate that nearly 50,000 invasive plant and animal species have invaded the country. With continued increases in international travel and trade, this number grows each year as more and more people unknowingly move invasive pests along with the goods and things they ship, mail, or carry. These pests destroy approximately 13 percent of U.S. crop production a year and cost the United States an estimated $120 billion in crop losses, damages, and control costs.
The "Can I Bring It?" campaign aims to reach U.S. residents and foreign visitors coming from China and Mexico into the continental United States through California ports of entry and from Hawaii to the U.S. mainland. These busy travel markets are amongst the highest-risk pathways for invasive pests to enter the country. The campaign will educate travelers about the three simple steps everyone can take to protect U.S. agriculture and the environment:
Look up items you wish to bring using the new CanIBringIt.com website to see whether they are allowed. If you can't find an item or still have questions, contact APHIS. Declare all agricultural items to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer or agriculture specialist at the port of entry, or in Hawaii, to a USDA official in the USDA pre-departure area of the airport. This is the most important step. Even if the website says an item is allowed, it must still be inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection or USDA to make sure it is free of potentially devastating pests and diseases.
These simple steps will not only help protect our country's agricultural and natural resources against devastating invasive pests, they will also help travelers avoid delays and costly fines. To learn more, visit www.CanIBringIt.com