History and mission of the CAPS Program
The Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS) has evolved from an initiative begun by the Intersociety Plant Protection Consortium in 1980. First known as the Cooperative National Plant Pest Survey and Detection Programs, CAPS was envisioned as a coordinating mechanism for all pest survey sin the United States.
In 1992, CAPS was redirected to address goals and objectives more suited to the available resources and within the mission of United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ).
PPQ has three legally mandated responsibilities:
- Protect American agriculture from foreign plant pest introductions and establishment
- Facilitate export of American agricultural products
- Control or eradicate pests as authorized by legislation and regulation
PPQ officials met in 1996 to discuss how to redefine and better implement its goals. Together with their state counterparts at the National Plant Board (NPB), the Safeguarding Review Study group was formed, and in July 1999 made their recommendations in the Safeguarding Review Report: Safeguarding Maerica's Plant Resources. The review contained many recommendations, some of which were already planned or underway, while others represented completely new approaches. Two of the most critical needs identified in the review were to strengthen the pest detection infrastructure and to develop a more effective system for prioritizing pest detection activities. The tragic events of September 11, 2001, led to a heightend urgency of homeland security and resulted in additional funds that were used for critical needs such as surveys to support ongoing emergency programs and other pest management programs, and for supporting stronger federal-state cooperative pest detection programs.
Currently, the CAPS programs assists PPQ through federally funded agreements that provide means for detection, documentation, and rapid dissemination of informatino on plant pests and biological control agents. CAPS works with PPQ and other agencies to incorporate pest lists, PPQ interception data, existing pest detection databases, and other data into a linked database that can be used for risk assessment, resources allocation, staffing, and strategic and logistical planning.
CAPS goals include monitoring plant pests to determine first occurences, study population dynamics, and refine distributions. PPQ supports these activites with communications, data management, and networking resources. Additionally, the CAPS program serves the public and private sectors by improving the quality and availability of pest information through outreach opportunities. The CAPS state networks are committed to expanding utilization of pest data in support of environmentally sound, competitive, and profitable American agriculture.