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USDA provides $70 Million in 2020 to protect ag from plant pest

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The USDA is allocating almost $70 million to support 386 projects under the Plant Protection Act’s Section 7721 program to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation, to safeguard the nursery production system, and to respond to plant pest emergencies. Selected projects will be carried out by universities, states, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits, and Tribal organizations in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

The FY 2020 project list includes 29 projects funded through the National Clean Plant Network, to provide high quality propagated plant material for fruit trees, grapes, berries, citrus, hops, sweet potatoes, and roses free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.

Since 2009, the USDA has supported more than 4,000 projects and provided nearly $600 million in funding through the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. Collectively, these projects allow the USDA and its partners to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive pests and diseases. They also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary to make sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers.

This year, funded projects include, among others:

  • Exotic fruit fly survey and detection: $5,800,000 in Florida and California;
  • Agriculture detector dog teams: $4,124,783 to programs in California, Florida, and Guam to enhance package inspections, and training for these detector dog teams.
  • Forest pests: $1,758,938 for various detection, methods development, or outreach to protect forests from harmful pests in 24 states including Arkansas, Indiana, North Dakota, and New Hampshire;
  • Honey bee and pollinator health: $1,728,882 to protect honey bees, bumble bees, and other important pollinators from harmful pests;
  • Biosecurity: $1,167,022 to Texas to safeguard the border trade of agricultural shipments.
  • Stone fruit and orchard commodities: $944,875 to support pest detection surveys in 16 states, including South Carolina and Rhode Island;
  • Phytophthora ramorum and related species: $854,506 in 22 states and nationally for survey, diagnostics, mitigation, probability modeling, genetic analysis, and outreach;
  • Grapes: $565,326 to enhance surveys for grape commodity pests and diseases in 17 states, including Tennessee and Washington; and,
  • Citrus: $463,280 to support citrus commodity surveys in California and Louisiana.

The USDA is reserving $15.5 million of the $70 million in funding to support rapid response during invasive pest emergencies should a pest of high economic consequence be found in the United States. In the past the USDA has used these funds to rapidly respond to pests such as Giant African snail, European cherry fruit fly, coconut rhinoceros beetle, exotic fruit flies, or spotted lanternfly.

As the United States and the world recognize the International Year of Plant Health in 2020, this funding highlights USDA’s continued commitment to safeguarding our agricultural resources for current and future generations.

Learn more about the Plant Protection Act, Section 7721 on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website.

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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