USA Rice Urges 100 Percent Inspection of Rice Shipments from Pakistan
ARLINGTON, VA -- (August 13, 2014) -- The full leadership of the USA Rice Federation has sent a letter to USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) asking the agency to conduct mandatory inspections on all shipments of rice from Pakistan, following the discovery last week of Khapra beetle larvae in a rice shipment from the country.
"Your discovery of Khapra beetle in a rice shipment from Pakistan to the port of Baltimore on August 6, 2014 has raised concerns across the U.S. rice industry due to the threat it poses not only to our $34 billion industry but also to U.S. agriculture in general," reads the letter. "This beetle is one of the world's most destructive pests of grain products and seeds. Without your diligence, the Khapra beetle could have entered the United States and caused major damage to U.S. agricultural industries."
The Khapra beetle is a native of India, but has spread to other countries in the area, Europe, and North Africa. Because of its ranking as one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world, many countries ban the import of agricultural products from countries with known infestations.
"Our top rice export market, Mexico, bans imports from countries with known Khapra infestations," said Dow Brantley, USA Rice Federation Chairman and one of the letter's signers. "It would be devastating if Khapra beetle could establish itself here, which is why we were so pleased APHIS caught it and turned those shipments around last week. We hope they'll keep the inspections up."
Other signers of the letter were John Owen, Chairman of the USA Rice Producers' Group; Chris Crutchfield, Chairman of the USA Rice Millers' Association; Dick Ottis, Chairman of the USA Rice Merchants' Association; and Betsy Ward, President and CEO of the USA Rice Federation.
"APHIS should be commended for their vigilance in stopping these contaminated shipments," said Ward. "We think the value of agriculture to our economy, and the seriousness of the threat make a strong case for mandatory 100 percent inspections of rice coming from any country with known Khapra infestations, particularly India and Pakistan."
Twenty-six countries have been designated by USDA as having endemic Khapra beetle infestations including India, Pakistan, Egypt, and Bangladesh.
Photo caption: Insecta non grata