Grapes are among the target crops for  new APHIS research funding

Grapes are among the target crops for new APHIS research funding.

Vilsack kicks off new round of war against plant diseases

Research funds allocated to APHIS for invasive pest studies

USDA officials report another year of grants are being rolled out over the next few weeks in support of hundreds of new research projects designed to develop better and more effective ways to fight the spread of plant diseases and curb invasive pest outbreaks in the years ahead.  

Section 1007 of the Agriculture Act of 2014 provides annual funds to be allocated for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to review and award funding to projects that focus on the growing problems of plant disease and pest pressure on U.S. agriculture and ways to better manage and control them with environmentally-friendly strategies.

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that $58.25 million of Section 1007 funding for 2016 will be distributed among a total of 434 projects that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment and ensure the availability of a healthy supply of clean plant stock in the United States for years to come.

"Through the farm bill we are working with our partners and stakeholders to not only ensure the global competitiveness of our specialty crop producers but to fight back against the destruction caused by invasive pests," said Vilsack. "The projects and centers funded through this effort are helping to develop and put in place the strategies, methods and treatments that safeguard our crops, plants, and natural resources from invasive threats."

He reported funding will be provided for projects in all 50 States plus Guam and Puerto Rico to implement projects suggested by universities, States, Federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, non-profits and Tribal organizations.

APHIS reports that since the first year of the new farm bill, they have funded more than 1,200 projects that played a significant role in efforts to protect American agriculture. Collectively, they say such projects make it possible for APHIS to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive pests outbreaks where they occur.

"They also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary for making sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers," Vilsack added.

FUNDED PROJECTS, 2016

For 2016, funded projects include:

  • Old world bollworm (Helicoverpa Armigera): $420,725 to delimit the infestation in Puerto Rico and collect and study samples of the pest; and $470,004 for survey and response planning activities in Florida
  • Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer/Fusarium Dieback in avocado: $175,000 for survey, early detection, and educational outreach in California
  • Bark beetle: $157,793 for a Regional Identification Center for Bark Beetle and other wood boring beetles in Oregon
  • Giant African land snail: $2,203,080 to support ongoing eradication efforts in Florida
  • Spotted lanternfly: $1,666,612 million to support eradication and education efforts in Pennsylvania
  • Coconut rhinoceros beetle: $1,649,384 to respond to infestations in Hawaii and Guam
  • Honey bees: $1,068,988 to survey honey bee populations and study bee health
  • Invasive pest control on Tribal lands: $504,786 for six projects to support Tribal outreach and education initiatives and projects to mitigate and control invasive pests on Tribal lands
  • Grapes: $465,145 to enhance surveys for grape commodity pests and diseases in 15 states.
  • National Clean Plant Network: $5 million to support 22 projects in 17 states that focus on providing high quality propagated plant material for fruit trees, grapes, hops, berries, citrus, roses and sweet potatoes free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.

The farm bill provided $62.5 million for these programs in fiscal year 2016, though funding was reduced by sequestration. The FY 2016 Section 10007 of the 2014 farm bill spending plan is available on the APHIS Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov/farmbill.

APHIS reminds us the public can help protect America's agricultural and natural resources by being aware of invasive pests and the damage they cause.

APHIS created the Hungry Pests public outreach program to empower Americans with the knowledge they need to leave these "hungry pests" behind. Visit www.HungryPests.com. This is an external link or third-party site that leads outside of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website.

To learn more about invasive plant pests and diseases affecting your area and how you can help, join the discussion about invasive plant pests via the Hungry Pests Facebook and Twitter pages.

The farm bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past seven years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation.

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