Plant Protection and Quarantine

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Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) is a program within the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The PPQ program attempts to safeguard agriculture and natural resources in the United States of America against the entry, establishment, and spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds. PPQ also supports trade and exports of U.S. agricultural products.

Plant pest program information[edit]

PPQ responds to many new introductions of plant pests to eradicate, suppress, or contain them through various programs in cooperation with state departments of agriculture and other government agencies within the USA. These may be emergency or longer-term domestic programs that target a specific pest.

Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) safeguards agriculture and natural resources from the risks associated with the entry, establishment, or spread of animal and plant pests and noxious weeds to ensure an abundant, high-quality, and varied food supply.

Asian Longhorned Beetle
Cactus Moth (Cactoblastis cactorum)
Cotton Pests
Boll Weevil
Pink Bollworm
Drosophila suzukii (Spotted Wing Drosophila) - Pest Alert
Emerald Ash Borer
European Grapevine Moth
Fruit Flies
Grasshopper/ Mormon Cricket
Gypsy Moth
Imported Fire Ant
Japanese Beetle
Light Brown Apple Moth
Pine Shoot Beetle
Pink Hibiscus Mealybug
Palm Weevils
Giant African Snails
Temperate Terrestrial Gastropods - New Pest Response Guideline
Golden Nematodes
Pale Cyst Nematode
USDA Nematology Lab
  • Plant Diseases:
Black Stem Rust/Barberry
Chrysanthemum White Rust
Citrus Diseases
European Larch Canker
Gladiolus Rust
Karnal Bunt
Phytophthora ramorum (Sudden Oak Death)
Plum Pox
Potato Diseases
Soybean Rust
Thousand Cankers Disease
  • Weeds
Federal Noxious Weeds Program

Pest detection[edit]

The goal of PPQ’s pest detection program is to protect America’s agricultural and ecological resources by insuring the early detection of harmful or economically significant plant pest and weeds. View this page to learn more about this program. The Pest Detection program supports APHIS’ goal of safeguarding U.S. agricultural and environmental resources by ensuring that new introductions of harmful plant pests and diseases are detected as soon as possible, before they have a chance to cause significant damage. A strong domestic agricultural pest detection system is an essential element in providing a continuum of checks from offshore preclearance programs, domestic port inspections, and surveys in rural and urban sites across the United States.

Center for Plant Health Science and Technology[edit]

The Center for Plant Health Science and Technology (CPHST) is the scientific support division for Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ). CPHST is responsible for ensuring that PPQ has the information, tools and technology to make the most scientifically valid regulatory and policy decisions possible. In addition, CPHST ensures PPQ’s operations have the most scientifically viable and practical tools for pest exclusion, detection, and management. Center for Plant Health Science and Technology (CPHST) provides scientific support for PPQ regulatory decisions and operations. Project Areas:

  • Trade Issues and Risk Analysis

Assessing the potential impact of new invasive plant pests to U.S. agriculture and the pest risks associated with imported plant products.

  • Treatment Technology

Developing new treatment methods for plant products to prevent movement of invasive pests through international trade.

  • Pest Detection

Developing tools and techniques to improve early detection of exotic pests in surveillance programs.

  • Identification and Diagnostics

Developing and validating new technologies to identify exotic pests and accrediting external laboratories to perform diagnostics for high consequence pests.

  • Emergency Response

Providing scientific support during plant health emergencies.

  • Arthropod Pests

Developing methods to manage invasive arthropods.

  • Plant Diseases

Developing methods to manage invasive plant diseases.

  • Noxious and Invasive Plants

Implementing existing methods and developing new technologies for the identification, exclusion, eradication, and management of invasive weeds and regulated plants.

  • Biological Control

Developing technologies that allow natural enemies to effectively mitigate the impacts of invasive arthropods, weeds, and plant pathogens.

Pest identification[edit]

The National Identification Services coordinates the identification of plant pests in support of USDA’s regulatory programs. This page provides procedures and resources relating to the identification of plant pests of regulatory concern.

The National Identification Services (NIS) coordinates the identification of plant pests in support of USDA’s regulatory programs. Accurate and timely identifications provide the foundation for quarantine action decisions and are essential in the effort to safeguard the nation’s agricultural and natural resources.

NIS collaborates with scientists who specialize in various plant pest groups, including weeds, insects, mites, snails and plant diseases. These scientists are stationed at a variety of institutions around the country, including federal research laboratories, plant inspection stations, land-grant universities, and natural history museums.

NIS supports the use of alternative diagnostic methods to enhance the speed and precision of the identification process. The Remote Pest Identification Program utilizes digital imaging technology to capture detailed images of suspected pests which can then be transmitted electronically to qualified specialists for identification. Additionally, the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory is responsible for providing biochemical testing services in support of the agency’s pest monitoring programs.


Agriculture Quarantine Inspection (AQI)
Remote Pest Identification Program (RPIP)


Plant pest confirmation notifications to the States


Identification Aids & Services

Plant import and export[edit]

PPQ serves to allow legitimate international and interstate trade while preventing the introduction of foreign plant pests. View this page to learn more about import and export requirements for live plants and plant products, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and certification information on solid wood packing material. Links to PPQ's electronic manuals are also available at this site. To learn about information related to what roles APHIS facilitates for Import and Export, click here. Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) maintains the export program for the United States exporters of United States and foreign-origin agricultural commodities. The export program does not require certification of any exports, but does provide certification of commodities as a service to United States exporters. See: Phytosanitary Certificates;Phytosanitary Certificate Issuance and Tracking System The USDA APHIS PPQ Export program follow the IPPC Standards and NAPPO Standards.

IPPC Standards

The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international plant health agreement, established in 1952, that aims to protect cultivated and wild plants by preventing the introduction and spread of pests.
The IPPC Standards consist of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM).

NAPPO Standards

PPQ is delegated as the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO)and assumes the responsibilities for ensuring the U.S. export program meets international standards.USDA APHIS PPQ policies and procedures are designed to be consistent with IPPC and NAPPO standards.

The North American Plant Protection Organization (NAPPO) depends on a wide range of stakeholders including regulators, scientists, academics, producers and national industry associations to achieve its mission. NAPPO Mission and Strategic Goals: “Provide a forum for public and private sectors in Canada, the United States and Mexico to collaborate in the development of science-based standards intended to protect agricultural, forest and other plant resources against regulated plant pests, while facilitating trade. Participate in related international cooperative efforts.”

The NAPPO Standards consist of Regional Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (RSPM).


Permits are required under specific USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Regulatory Authorities to import designated plants, plant products and soil into the U.S., transport designated plants and plant products through the U.S., import plant pests and biological control organisms into the U.S., and move plant pests and biological control organisms between States.

Plant, Organism and Soil Permits

Permits are required for the importation, transit, domestic movement and environmental release of Organisms that impact plants, and the importation and transit of Plants and Plant Products under authority of the Plant Protection and Honeybee Acts.

Organism and Soil Permits

Organism Permits include Plant Pests such as insects and snails; Plant Pathogens such as fungi, bacteria, and virus’; Biological Control Agents, Bees, Plant Pest Diagnostic Laboratories, Soil Microbe Isolation Laboratories, Federal Noxious Weeds and Parasitic Plants.

Plants and Plant Products Permits

Plant and Plant Product Permits include Plants for Planting such as nursery stock, small lots of seed, and Postentry; Plant Products such as fruits and vegetable, timber, cotton and cut flowers; Protected Plants and Plant Products such as orchids, and Threatened and Endangered plant species; Transit Permits to ship regulated articles into, through, and out of the U.S.; and Departmental Permits to import prohibited plant materials for research. Go to this section for detailed information about Plant and Plant Product permits.

Permits are offered through the on-line web-based ePermits system

Crop biosecurity and emergency response[edit]

PPQ, the Federal response agency for plant health emergencies, develops and delivers strategic science-based regulatory programs designed to protect US crops and natural resources. View this page to learn about PPQ's infrastructure, programs, and activities that strive to deliver an effective systems approach to mitigate risks posed by select agents and regulated pests.

Accreditation, Certification, and Network Services[edit]

The Accreditation, Certification, and Network Services (ACNS) unit manages the National Seed Health System; the U.S. Nursery Certification Program; the U.S. Greenhouse Certification Program; the State National Harmonization Program for seed potatoes; Special Foreign Inspection and Certification programs; Plants in Growing Media; Postentry Quarantine, Audit-based Certification Systems pertaining to section 10201(d)(1) of the Farm Bill; and the National Clean Plant Network pertaining to section 10202 of the Farm Bill.

See also[edit]