Plants and Plant Pests
THE need for the enforcement of measures to protect the United States from new plant-pests is generally admitted; but when such measures come to be applied, irrespective of their scope or character, — radical or otherwise, — there is bound to be criticism and objection from at least a certain percentage of the persons unfavorably affected. This is true of any law or regulation, however meritorious, which brings new restrictions on privileges formerly enjoyed, and is well exemplified in a few of the quarantines, promulgated under the Federal Plant Quarantine Act of 1912, which restrict importations of plants and plant products to prevent the entry of pests. Such criticism has been especially active in relation to Plant Quarantine No. 37 by persons who would like to see it either abolished or so amended that in large measure the old-time free importation of foreign nursery-stock and other plants might be resumed. In general this criticism has been characterized by a failure to appreciate that such freedom of entry of plants must necessarily bring a return of all the old risks of entry of pests.
The agricultural, horticultural, and nursery interests of the country as a whole appreciate the need for the quarantine and understand and approve its provisions limiting plantimportations, and it would hardly be worth while to give attention to the misrepresentations referred to except that they have been widely circulated and have been accepted by many persons as correctly describing the quarantine.
Such persons have been led to believe with respect to this quarantine: —
1. That its alleged protective purpose — that is, to exclude plant pests — is a subterfuge, the real object being trade-protection.
2. That it is now a practical embargo on entry of plants and will ultimately place a permanent check on the development of American horticulture.
3. That the restrictions are not justified by the dangers of new pests, and that any risks which actually exist can be adequately safeguarded by inspection and certification in countries of origin.
4. That it was dictated and is being autocratically administered by a few men and that it oversteps the quarantine powers authorized in the Plant Quarantine Act.
5. That it was promulgated without warning and that a few insiders were thus able to get an advantage.
6. That it is very likely to lead to retaliation on the part of other countries.
In view of this situation, it is desirable that such persons and the general public should be given an opportunity to understand better the conditions which necessitated Quarantine 37 and its protective provisions, which extend to every phase of agriculture, horticulture, and forestry.
After all that has been published on the subject of imported plant-pests and in view of the personal and often sad experiences which most of our people have had with such enemies, it would seem to be unnecessary to discuss at any length the records of such importations or the losses which have resulted therefrom to our fruit and farm crops and to our forests. Briefly, upward of a hundred important pests of this kind have been introduced and many hundreds of lesser importance, and these now reduce crop-yields by more than a billion dollars a year!
Any examination of the records of entry of such old-world pests will indicate that imported nursery-stock and other plants and seeds brought fully ninety per cent of these, and most of the others came with plant products — straw cereals, and so forth, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The following typical examples will indicate the means of entry of some of the worst of these pests.
The soil accidentally associated with an importation of iris brought the Japanese beetle, an insect of no special importance in Japan, but which in New Jersey and Pennsylvania has demonstrated a capacity for injury and facility of spread which indicates that it is going to be with us one of the most serious of orchard, garden, and meadow pests. There is no possibility of eradicating it and it will undoubtedly, in spite of all repressive efforts, within a few years overrun much of the United States.
The importations of the Japanese flowering cherry about 1910, during a period of enthusiasm for this very beautiful tree, introduced the Oriental fruit-worm, now firmly established in half a dozen Eastern states, and beginning to get foothold widely in the South and westward to Missouri and Texas. These trees could easily have been produced here under the safer horticultural procedure now permitted under the quarantine, and millions of future loss avoided. No effective means of controlling this pest have so far been determined, and it is bound to place a very serious check on the production particularly of peaches and other stone-fruits, but also the apple, pear, and so forth.
One of the most spectacular scourges which has come to us from the Orient is the chestnut blight, brought in with chestnut trees from Japan or China, possibly in an effort to complete a collection of the chestnuts of the world by one of our Eastern botanical gardens. In a report of one of these gardens, in which its collection of world types of different kinds of trees is described, it is noted that the chestnuts are now represented only by the Japanese chestnuts of China and Japan, and that the American chestnuts have all been destroyed by the chestnut blight!
The San José scale was brought in with a small importation of the flowering peach from North China, and, inasmuch as it is occasionally represented that the introduction of this scale has been of real benefit to American horticulture, it may be pointed out that on account of it there is an actual cost in spraying commercial orchards every year of between $15,000,000 and $20,000,000, and that in spite of this treatment there is still occasionally large injury. There are also, on account of the scale, embargoes or near embargoes against our apples and other deciduous fruits by certain European countries. Another very important loss commonly overlooked is that this scale has practically eliminated the old-time home orchards in country, village, and suburban districts, the products of which formerly totaled large in the fruit-consumption of the United States. The labor and difficulty of the frequent treatments required to safeguard the crop have practically led to the disappearance of such noncommercial plantings connected with millions of homes.
A very unnecessary importation some fifteen years ago from Holland of a native American tree, the blue spruce of our Rocky Mountains, established the gypsy moth widely in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The effort to eradicate this pest in these states over the last four or five years has been very thoroughgoing and may prove in the end successful, but it has been at a tremendous cost both to the Federal Government and to these states.
The pine blister-rust which now threatens our white-pine forests, both of the eastern United States and of the great mountain regions of the Northwest, was introduced through importations of seedlings of the American white pine propagated in Germany. Generations to come will be computing the saving to America if we had been wise enough to have grown these seedlings ourselves, as we are now doing!
The citrus canker, one of the most threatening diseases of citrus fruits, was introduced with importations of the Japanese trifoliate orange, a plant which was already abundantly available in this country for multiplication by simple and easy nursery-methods. The effort to eradicate this pest has probably cost the Federal Government and the Gulf States, notably Florida, including losses of individuals, fully $20,000,000 in funds expended in control work and in the value of orchards and nurseries burned to the ground.
Except for the gypsy moth, all these pests and diseases, and many others which could be cited, were unknown prior to their entry, and most of them, from the nature of their concealment or method of attack, might still have been introduced unwittingly under any system of inspection or certification; and this is especially true of plant diseases. The pine blister-rust, for example, may be in the sap and tissues of the plant for several years before it develops into an exterior visible stage.
To illustrate the rapidity with which such plant enemies were coming into the United States, it may be noted that during the period of four years (19091912) which it took, on account of opposition, to secure a Federal law to put some check upon these dangers, the following pests of major importance secured entry and became established, namely: Oriental fruit-worm, Japanese beetle, citrus canker, potato wart, European corn-borer, camphor scale, and the gypsy moth in New Jersey.
Quarantine 37 has but one purpose, namely, to reduce to the utmost the risk of introducing dangerous plantpests with plant-importations. This purpose is the basis of all the regulations restricting entry of foreign plants. Quarantine 37 has no tariff object whatsoever. It was not devised to protect plant-growers from foreign competition. The absence of any thought of such protection, on the part either of this Department, of State officials, or of others advocating the quarantine, is indicated by the fact that the first and strongest wave of opposition to it was from commercial plant-propagators, — nurserymen and florists, — interests which are now almost equally unanimous in its support.
That Plant Quarantine 37 is in no true sense an embargo should be apparent from any unbiased examination of the continuing provisions under it for the entry of any necessary plants. Perhaps the most reasonable criticism of the quarantine is embodied in the belief that it should be possible adequately to exclude such crop hazards as insect pests and plant diseases by provision for inspection and certification of plants by competent experts in the country of origin. In point of fact, such means of safeguarding entry was the first thought of the Department following the promulgation of the Plant Quarantine Act of 1912, and as rapidly as possible the principal countries — some thirty-two eventually — concerned in any important way in the exportation of plants to the United States were induced to provide by legislation for such inspection and certification. A practical test of this method was continued for the first seven years of the enforcement of the Plant Quarantine Act, during which period unlimited importation of plants was permitted and the effort was made to prevent the entry of new pests by relying as safeguards on foreign inspection and certification and such additional reinspection at destination in this country as could be carried out by state inspectors — and such state coöperation was specifically provided for in the Act.
Of the principal countries exporting plants to the United States, probably Holland and France developed as good an inspection service as any, if not the best. These countries certainly gave the subject their most serious thought and effort, and the status as to freedom from insects and diseases of their exports of plants probably represents the best work that can be expected under the plan of foreign inspection and certification. Notwithstanding these efforts, however, a great many injurious insects and plant diseases were found on stock imported from these countries between August 20, 1912, and June 1, 1919, the effective date of Quarantine 37. During this period of seven years no less than 148 different kinds of injurious insects were collected on nursery stock imported from Holland, and 245 different kinds of insects on similar stock from France. Some of these were detected in over one thousand different shipments of plants and many of them were detected hundreds of times. While a large percentage of these were insect pests which had already become established in the United States, many others had not become so established and carried new and very serious elements of danger to our horticulture and agriculture; and some, like the gypsy moth and the brown-tailed moth, had only limited distribution in the United States. There was also noted a very large variation in the yearly efficiency of this foreign inspection service. In certain years, for example, fruit stocks, rose stocks, and other plants, in spite of this service, came in repeatedly and often heavily infested with such pests as the gypsy moth, the browntailed moth, and other pests of importance in Europe, not yet established anywhere in the United States.
If space permitted, many interesting illustrations could be given of the pests that have been thus intercepted and of the risk from others which are not capable of exclusion by inspection — insects, for example, hidden in the interior of the stems and roots of plants, and plant diseases which may not develop to a visible stage for months or even years after the plants are imported. No inspection either in country of origin or at destination in this country, for example, would have excluded the Oriental fruit-worm or the chestnut blight or the citrus canker, and inspection gives very little protection against unknown or unanticipated enemies, which represent an important element from countries that have been little explored from the standpoint of plant enemies, such as all transpacific countries.
Not only was the foreign inspection totally inadequate, but it developed also that the reinspection at destination in this country could by no means be depended upon to complete the safeguards against entry of pests. A few states were equipped with adequate authority and forces to examine imported stock at destination. Other states, however, were not so equipped, and the volume and wide distribution of the material led to a great deal of it going uninspected or receiving such superficial examination as to give no real protection.
The inadequacy of the inspection and certification method of safeguarding the entry of foreign plants was plainly indicated in this seven-year trial, and the conclusion was forced that the only possible means of effectively lessening the introduction of new plant-enemies is in a policy of exclusion of all plants not absolutely essential to the horticultural and forestry needs of the United States. Carrying out this policy, Quarantine 37 restricts the entry of most nursery stock and other ornamentals to certain purposes which are believed to be necessary to the development of American horticulture. Unlimited entry is permitted of certain classes of plants, and provision is made for the entry of any other plant whatsoever for which a reasonable need can be shown, either for introduction of new varieties or for propagating stock not available in the United States, or for any experimental, educational, or scientific purpose. Briefly, these provisions are as follows: —
1. Under Regulation 2 of the quarantine unlimited entry is possible, without permit or other restriction, of field, vegetable, and flower seeds, and of plant products imported for medicinal, food, or manufacturing purposes.
2. Regulation 3 provides for the unlimited entry, under permit and with provision for inspection, and, if necessary, disinfection, of certain important classes of plants and plant products which cannot at present be adequately produced in the United States.
3. Regulation 14 makes provision for the entry, under special permit, of any plant or seed not included under Regulations 2, 3, and 15 for the purpose of keeping the country supplied with new varieties and necessary propagating stock, or for any necessary experimental, educational, or scientific purpose.
4. Regulation 15 recognizes the intimate trade-relations between the United States and Canada and Mexico and provides, under permit and necessary safeguards, for the importation of plants the entry of which from other foreign countries is restricted.
5. The only exceptions to the entry of plants thus provided for are those involved under specific quarantines: as, for example, the prohibition of entry of five-leafed pines, Ribes and Grossularia from certain countries, on account of the whitepine blister-rust, and generally of citrus, bamboo, banana plants, and so forth, on account of specific diseases and pests; but any of these prohibited plants may be imported, under permit and adequate safeguards, through the U. S. Department of Agriculture, for any necessary experimental, scientific, or introduction purpose.
These provisions for entry are a continuing feature of the quarantine. There is no basis whatever for the assertion which is frequently made that Plant Quarantine 37 contemplates ‘a complete exclusion of foreign horticultural material.’ The Department has no wish or intention, now or at any future time, to make it impossible to provide for the entry, under proper safeguards, of any plant whatsoever for which a real need can be shown. Furthermore, that in the actual administration of the quarantine such provisions have been adequate and have been fully taken advantage of will be apparent from any examination of the records of importations thereunder. It may be of interest to summarize briefly such importations made during the five-year period of the quarantine (1919-1924). Not including the importations made subsequent to July 1, last, some 65,000,000 of the restricted or so-called ‘embargoed’ plants have been authorized entry into the United States, and upward of 40,000,000 of these have been imported and are now the basis for some 2000 different enterprises in 44 of the 48 states for the propagation of ornamentals and other plants formerly imported. The bearing of all this home production on the purpose of Quarantine 37 is that it lessens the necessity for plant-importations and correspondingly reduces the risk of bringing in new pests.
As indicating the ample provision for the entry of any necessary new or unavailable variety of plants, it may be noted that these 65,000,000 plants whose entry was authorized during this period include more than 17,000 different species and varieties of plants, numbering nearly 2000 different roses, nearly 1000 different gladioli, some 1700 different dahlias, and upward of 1200 different peonies. Certainly the assimilation of 2000 different roses, for example, does not look like a complete exclusion of new or unavailable horticultural material!
Such entries have been authorized, not only for commercial propagation, but to meet the needs of botanic gardens, arboretums, experiment stations, and other similar public institutions, and of any person who is widely or nationally known as maintaining a collection of real merit and open to the public, or is engaged in work of public benefit with the plants concerned. The conditioning of entry on a publicservice basis is believed to be necessary. Otherwise we should have little restriction on number and volume of plantimportations and correspondingly little protection against the entry of new pests.
The Department of Agriculture thoroughly appreciates and sympathizes with the perfectly natural desire of plant-lovers to import for their personal use and the adornment of their estates or gardens any new or old variety which they may wish to secure, and would be only too glad to meet the wishes of such persons if it were not realized that this action would practically nullify the quarantine. Persons with a keen interest in plants are found in numbers in every town and hamlet in the United States, and to permit any or all of them to import plants in such condition that they could grow them would mean not only that the plants would have to come, in many cases, in earth, — involving dangers of plant-pest introductions which cannot be safeguarded by inspection or treatment, — but that it would be absolutely impossible for this Department to handle the tens of thousands of small importations which would result, or to follow them up to destinations throughout the country with any subsequent safeguards. There would rarely be any public service of real value in connection with such importations, such as making the new plants generally available or utilizing them for breeding or other work. Some essential service of this sort should be the basis for the entry of the various classes of plants which are not open to unlimited importation. The mere personal gratification of the thousands of individuals who might wish to make their own importations would be small justification for the risk of carriage of new pests to every part of the United States.
Under the plan, therefore, of Quarantine 37, it becomes necessary for those persons who are neither commercial propagators of plants, collectors of serious merit, nor engaged in research of distinct public benefit, — in other words, the ordinary gardenlover, — to secure the restricted plants from home sources, and the Department has endeavored, through the means enumerated, to make them available under methods which involve the least risk to the horticulture and agriculture of the country.
It is not necessary to discuss at length the classes of bulbs and other plants which are open to unlimited entry. These include all field, vegetable, and flower seeds, eighty or ninety per cent of the bulbs hitherto imported, fruit and rose stocks, and all seeds of fruit and forest trees and ornamental plants and shrubs. As an example of such unrestricted entry, the importation of bulbs last year (1924) represents the largest importation into the United States of this class of plants ever made, amounting to very nearly 260,000,000 bulbs! In connection with the retail of these bulbs it is worthy of note that there is going on all the time a form of misrepresentation which cannot be overtaken and which reaches the very home life of most of our people — that is, it is a common practice for local dealers to defend the prices which they are asking for imported bulbs by advising their patrons that the prices are necessitated by the restrictions on entry under Quarantine 37, whereas the very possession of the imported bulbs for sale is possible only because there are no restrictions on their entry!
The termination of the free commercial entry of narcissus bulbs with the end of 1925 will arouse a widespread public interest. It seems desirable, therefore, to give a statement of the reasons which led the Department over two years ago to authorize such prohibition at the end of a threeyear term — the postponement of action being to enable such readjustments as were possible and necessary, both with respect to production in this country and on the part of foreign growers and exporters.
Of all bulbs which are entering this country, the narcissus bulbs have proved to be the most frequent and abundant carriers of serious pests — pests which not only are destructive to bulb-cultures, but are even more damaging to important field-crops. The more important of these pests are two bulb-flies and an eelworm or nematode. These conditions still obtain or, if anything, have increased in the meantime.
The two bulb-flies, particularly the smaller one, are found in practically every shipment of narcissi from Holland, in some instances infesting as much as twelve per cent of the bulbs; and individual bulbs may contain from fifty to seventy-five maggots! In Europe this bulb-fly is a serious enemy not only of bulbs but also of the onion, and has occasionally destroyed entire crops of that vegetable. This pest has now gained some foothold in the United States, chiefly in connection with bulbproduction, and has spread in at least one instance to onion fields.
Perhaps the most dangerous of all bulb pests is the European eelworm, Tylenchus dipsaci. It very commonly infests the following field-crops in Europe: clover, lucerne, rye, oats, onions, and potatoes, as well as bulbs. In South Africa this eelworm, introduced from Europe, is now generally found with alfalfa cultures, and limits the life of the crop so as not to exceed four or five years. In the United States it has already gained some foothold in the Northwest in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and Colorado. Its introduction has apparently been through the agency of the planting of imported bulbs, and it has spread from such plantings to the clover fields and is in places already causing such injury as to threaten the further successful growth of this important forage-crop. In California the Pathologist of the Department of Agriculture, Mr. D. G. Milbrath, recently stated with respect to bulb-production in that state that if this eelworm is not checked the bulb industry will be ruined. Mr. Milbrath also stated that if infested bulbs are not permitted to come into California this nematode can still be eradicated in that state.
On the subject of the probability of home production of these bulbs to meet American needs, the Department is advised that very substantial progress has been made and that the outlook for the successful meeting of such needs within a few years seems favorable. Furthermore, after 1925 there will still be afforded under the quarantine ample opportunity for the importation of narcissus and other seed bulbs for planting-stock and the introduction of new varieties. Such material can be disinfected and safeguarded by the hot-water treatment. Unfortunately this treatment, we are assured by the Dutch authorities, cannot be applied to the forcing-bulbs, which are the ordinary article of import, without seriously reducing the flowering.
The effort is being made in some quarters to indicate that the United States may expect retaliation on the part of other countries on account of these restrictions. In contrast, it is alleged or is left to be inferred that foreign countries permit our plants and fruits to enter freely. The facts are that the leading countries of Continental Europe began prohibition of American plants in connection with the Phylloxera some half-century ago, and some twenty-five years later such prohibitions were made practically complete on account of the San José scale. For the most part these were real embargoes and not the regulation, restriction, and safeguarding of entry which the United States in general enforces under its plant quarantines. Such embargoes were issued by Holland, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Other countries — Belgium, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and Russia — promulgated restrictions of lesser degree. Even Great Britain, Norway, and Sweden embargoed certain plants. Furthermore, our fruits and certain of our fruit products entered some of these countries — if they entered at all — under very burdensome restrictions. There were also restrictions from many countries against American potatoes. Most of these embargoes and restrictions still obtain and no one has questioned the right and desirability of thus protecting Europe’s cultures. The United States was the laggard in such protective action and is paying the cost in upward of $1,000,000,000 annual loss from imported pests.
A recent effort to revive the retaliation bugaboo is based on the action of Great Britain in embargoing American potatoes. Instead of accepting the announced reason given by the British authorities, — risk of entry of the Colorado potato-beetle, — it is alleged that this action may be interpreted as strictly retaliatory. In point of fact, this action of Great Britain against the United States is a continuation of a series of quarantines, the first of which was issued over two years ago against France on account of the invasion of a region about the city of Bordeaux by this beetle, and the fact that potatoes from that district were likely to be imported into Great Britain. The action against the United States, coming two years later, is accounted for in the explanation issued by the British authorities that the short crop in England for the last season (1924) had stimulated importations from the United States and that such importations would involve a risk of the introduction of the Colorado beetle. The only thing illogical about this action was its failure to include Canada, where this beetle has long been established, but this failure has been corrected by the recent promulgation of a similar quarantine against Canada. It fails to appear why, of these three successive quarantines on account of the Colorado potato-beetle, the one against the United States should be interpreted as retaliatory! We seem to be in fairly numerous and good company!
With respect to the responsibility for the promulgation of Quarantine 37 and other plant quarantines, it should be understood that the Federal Horticultural Board, provided for specifically in the Act, is merely advisory to the Secretary of Agriculture. Under the terms of the Act this Board must be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture from the three bureaus of the Department (Plant Industry, Forestry, and Entomology) having direct relation to the farm and forest resources of the nation from the standpoint both of production and of protection from losses due to insect pests or plant diseases; therefore, in its advisory function to the Secretary of Agriculture, it represents these three important bureaus. As now constituted, the membership of this Board involves two persons from the Bureau of Entomology, two from the Bureau of Plant Industry, and one from the Forest Service. It would seem to require no argument that a plant-quarantine Board for the administration of a plant quarantine Act, having for its purpose the prevention of entry of diseases and insect pests of plants, should be technically expert on the subject of such plant enemies. To safeguard further the promulgation of plant quarantines, the recommendations of this Board are based on public hearings, specifically provided for in the Act, and follow conferences with the Department specialists. Finally, before any proposed quarantine is promulgated it is reviewed and approved as to subject matter and need by the solicitors and the Director of Regulatory Work of the Department and by the Secretary of Agriculture. Such actions represent, therefore, the judgment of the Department as a whole.
It is well to review the events which led up to the institution of the quarantine. The unsatisfactory results obtained under the system of foreign inspection and certification led to demands, which had been increasing from year to year, from state agricultural and horticultural officials and from state and regional agricultural and horticultural societies and allied bodies, for better protection from the stream of foreign plant-enemies constantly coming in with imported plants. Before taking action, however, the Board gave ample notice and opportunity for the consideration of every phase of the subject in a series of public hearings and conferences which followed a period of a year’s discussion and conferences with state officials, nursery inspectors, and so forth, and with the plant experts within the Department of Agriculture.
The first public hearing was held May 28, 1918, following a fully informing notice issued two months earlier, and published generally in horticultural and other trade papers. This hearing had a large attendance by interested persons, and resulted in an almost unanimous demand for restrictions if anything more drastic than those later decided upon. Following this hearing the subject was still further investigated by this Department over a period of three months. Quarantine 37, with Regulations, was then drafted substantially along the fines in which it was afterward promulgated, and in this form was sent for consideration and criticism to state officials, societies, and others represented at the hearing of May 28, and also to horticultural trade journals, with an invitation for a second conference or hearing to be held October 18, 1918. Only minor modifications of the quarantine resulted from this second conference, and the quarantine was promulgated November 18, 1918, but was not made effective until some six months later, namely, June 1, 1919. There was, therefore, between the original notice of hearing and the actual promulgation of the quarantine a period of nearly eight months of publicity, hearing, and conference, and the quarantine, as noted, did not become effective until some six months later — in other words, a total period of fourteen months, during which the matter was fully before all interested persons.
The charge that is sometimes made that the quarantine was promulgated without warning and that a few insiders were able to make importations in advance of this promulgation is entirely baseless. Any importation made by any nurseryman prior to the effective date of the quarantine was merely a matter of the exercise of judgment and was based on no information that was not available to all.
What appears to be the public attitude toward Quarantine 37?
Endorsement and criticism have come unsolicited to the Department, largely in reaction to a widespread campaign of misrepresentation and propaganda against the quarantine at the beginning of the term of the late Mr. Wallace as Secretary of Agriculture. Such comment included endorsement by duly constituted officials of thirty-eight states with none in opposition, by fourteen national and regional agricultural and horticultural associations, by thirty-six similar state and local associations, and by hundreds of nurserymen, florists, and others.
The wave of propaganda referred to led Secretary Wallace to call a nationwide conference for the general discussion and appraisal of this quarantine. The conference, held in Washington in May 1922, and presided over by the Secretary, brought together a large representation of all interests affected, and also delegates and representatives from the principal countries exporting plants to the United States. To enable him to form a better judgment of the merits of the quarantine, the Secretary made a personal selection of a special committee to sit in the conference and report to him its judgment with respect to this quarantine. This committee was composed of the late Professor J. C. Whitten, Horticulturist of the University of California, Dr. A. F. Woods, President of the University of Maryland, and Mr. M. R. Cashman, President of the American Association of Nurserymen.
In general, the outcome of the conference was a substantial endorsement of Quarantine 37, including the report of the Secretary’s special committee. Perhaps the most important results of the conference were a much better understanding of the need of safeguarding the country against the introduction of destructive plant-pests and diseases, and the dispelling of many of the prejudices and mistaken ideas that had existed concerning this quarantine.
As a later appraisal of the necessity for adequate protection from entry of new plant and animal pests, it may be recalled that this subject was given considerable attention by the President’s Agricultural Conference of last winter. The following paragraph from the report of the Conference to the President, of February 2, 1925, introduces a discussion of the subject: —
Security of American agriculture from the invasion of foreign diseases and pests, and the protection of agriculture against the transmission of diseases and pests already established in certain sections of the country, are of the highest importance. There is increasing danger which calls for increasing vigilance in policing all possible disease-carriers imported into the country or transmitted within it.
The discussion points out that ‘the outbreaks of such diseases and pests are not local matters, but may at any moment become national calamities,’ and that ‘there are continuing threats of grave plant-pests of devastating character.’
After discussing the lack of facilities and urging more adequate appropriations for control work, the Conference suggests that the President should urge upon the Secretary of Agriculture the recognition of the necessity of greater effort ‘to properly police the vast agricultural resources of the country . . . against the type of destruction which from time to time already has taken hold in various parts of the country, and which will threaten the agricultural resources of the country in increasing degree in future years.’
In conclusion, one can only urge that the immediate personal interest be subordinated to the broader view of what is best for the country as a whole. It would certainly seem to be unthinkable that the farm, garden, orchard, and forestry interests of the United States or that any true plantlover should want to return substantially to the old system with all its attendant risks. Our plants are worthy of the same protection which we are endeavoring to give to our humans and to our domesticated animals, and that is the sole purpose of the quarantines restricting and safeguarding the entry of plants and plant products.