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International Year of Plant Health

The UN has declared 2020 the International Year of Plant Health.

The goal of this year long celebration is to raise public awareness on “how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.” The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that “up to 40% of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases annually.”

The following list is based on the FAO’s suggestions for helping to raise awareness for plant health across the globe, and we’ve added a couple of our own suggestions as well.

  1. Be careful when bringing plants and plant products across borders
    Speak with your vendors and suppliers about whether they are taking steps to mitigate the spread of undesirable contaminants. Being aware of the policies others have in place can help you to take steps to protect your investments as well.
  2. Comply with local and federal plant health standards
    Complying with guidelines and laws helps protect you AND your plants.
  3. Consider implementing Integrated Pest Management practices
    Research is emerging daily on environmentally friendly ways to manage pests, and these IPM strategies could help you save the environment as well as your crops.
  4. Reach out to policy makers
    Not everyone is aware of the issues surrounding plant health, and policy makers are no exception. Consider asking for a public awareness campaign, suggest changes to local policies, or ask them to invest in innovative plant research. Every little bit helps.
  5. Implement (or re-evaluate) plant monitoring policies
    Early detection is often key to controlling the spread. If you don’t already, consider implementing plant monitoring policies. Or if you do have these policies, perhaps re-evaluate them to see if improvements can be made.
  6. Research and share locally
    If you are on social media, talk to your audience about these issues. Point them to local resources like the DNR or your state’s Department of Agriculture to find out more about what they can do to help the cause. If you’re not on social media, consider talking to people at networking or other social events about the issues.

The FAO has also provided a list of resources and strategies to help raise public awareness, and if you are interested in spreading the word, we suggest checking that out too. There is a ton of information free to share with people, and resources to help you get the word out.

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