European nematodes threaten U.S. farmers

US Army Customs Agency – Europe / Customs and Border Clearance Agency

Mud on your bike can import dangerous pests. (Photo: Clydesdale Cyclist)

WIESBADEN, Germany — Europe is home to many agricultural pests that are not found in the United States and soil is a natural hideout for them.  Personnel assigned to Europe must remember to clean anything that collects dirt before they send it stateside. These pests can cause great damage to the U.S. farming economy.

“You can unwittingly introduce invasive pests into the USA,” said Julie Aliaga-Milos, U.S. Department of Agriculture adviser at the U.S. European Command Customs and Border Clearance Agency. “It only takes one bit of soil on your car, lawn furniture, bicycle, field gear, shoe or boot.” Vehicles and military equipment are especially prone to contamination by dirt, mud and soil, she added.

“It is so important to clean everything you ship or mail home,” Aliaga-Milos stated. It is also why USEUCOM has a border clearance program that inspects personal property, private vehicles and military shipments destined for the U.S. to prevent any pests from spreading.

Soil can contain numerous harmful animal diseases, noxious weed seeds and plant pests. These pests include bacteria, viruses, fungi, nematodes, and life stages of destructive mollusks and insects.

“For example, the burrowing nematode is a tiny worm not native to the States,” she said.  “But it could hide in the mud on your boots. If you took that mud stateside, the nematode eggs could later hatch and attack the roots of banana or citrus trees.” Losses on infested trees cost millions of dollars annually.

Call a military customs office to find out more agricultural threats to the U.S. or visit our website at Customs.


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