New APHIS Administrator Highlights Agency Priorities

Administrator looks towards boll weevil eradication, national animal disease traceability program

Published on: Jul 3, 2013

Just a few weeks after his official duties began as administrator for the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Kevin Shea says he plans to act on several top priorities for the agency, including pest eradication and animal traceability objectives.

Shea took office June 18, succeeding Dr. Greg Parham, who left the administrator role after being appointed to serve as USDA's Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration. Shea previously served as Associate APHIS Administrator since 2004.

In a letter to APHIS stakeholders, Shea said he sees "two overarching tenets" guiding the direction of APHIS: agriculture as a basis for the American economy to thrive, and keeping government's role to doing what "no one of us can do for ourselves."

Kevin Shea previously served as APHIS Associate Administrator. (USDA file photo)
Kevin Shea previously served as APHIS Associate Administrator. (USDA file photo)

"I believe APHIS should constantly strive to improve and deliver our services in a way that is cheaper, faster, and more effective for American agriculture, farmers and ranchers, taxpayers and all those we serve and affect," Shea noted.

Shea called for an approach that provides non-regulatory solutions and greater ease-of-use for electronic permitting and other services.

Specifically, Shea shared 10 goals looking forward for the agency:

* Complete the more than 30-year effort to eradicate boll weevil from the United States.

* Complete effort to eradicate the European grapevine moth in California.

* Establish a national feral swine control program.

* Reduce by at least half the number of detections of the cruel and inhumane practice of horse soring in the Tennessee walking horse industry.

* Fully implement a functioning animal disease traceability program that proves its traceback value after a disease detection.

* Ensure that the sterile screwworm rearing facility in Panama is operating well and providing complete assurance that we will maintain the barrier established at the Darien Gap.

* Implement business process improvements for veterinary biologics and biotechnology and meet or exceed the goals to safely move important new technology to market faster.

* Prevent citrus greening disease from causing damage in California.

* Implement a multi-national system that reduces the threat of tree pests arriving from Asia and other parts of the world.

* Eliminate all remaining BSE barriers to export markets.

Though he admits the priorities outline just some of the challenges the agency faces, he says prevention of known diseases outside the U.S. will be an ongoing effort to avoid impacts on export markets.

"I'm committed to doing all we can at APHIS to ensure the health, marketability, and profitability of your industries," Shea concluded.