USDA provides $70M for protection against plant pests, diseases

Wisconsin State Farmer
The USDA has earmarked $944,116 in funding for Asian giant hornet research and eradication efforts. The funding is part of a $70

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating more than $70 million to support 383 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.

The projects, which will be spread across 49 states and in the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, are being carried out by universities, states, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits, and Tribal organizations, according to a news release.

“State governments, academic institutions, and other essential cooperators across the country use these USDA funds to protect American crops and natural resources and ensure the marketability of our agricultural products across the globe,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs.

Of those projects slated to be launched in 2021, 29 of them are funded through the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN), which helps the nation maintain the infrastructure necessary to ensure that pathogen-free, disease-free and pest-free certified planting materials for fruit trees, grapes, berries, citrus, hops, sweet potatoes, and roses are available to U.S. specialty crop producers.

In the past 11 years, the agency has backed over 4,400 projects, providing nearly $670 million in funding through the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. According to USDA officials, these projects are critical in allowing the agency and its partners to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive plant pests and diseases.

In FY 2021, funded projects include, among others:

  • Asian giant hornet research and eradication efforts: $944,116 in Washington and other states;
  • Exotic fruit fly survey and detection: $5,575,000 in Florida and California;
  • Agriculture detector dog teams: $4,287,097 to programs in California, Florida, and nationally to support detector dog teams;
  • Honey bee and pollinator health: $1,337,819 to protect honey bees, bumble bees and other important pollinators from harmful pests;
  • Biosecurity: $1,339,183 to Texas to monitor for pests in agricultural shipments at ports of entry;
  • Stone fruit and orchard commodities: $1,158,000 to support pest detection surveys in 10 states including New York and Pennsylvania;
  • Forest pests: $876,485 for various detection tools, control methods development, or outreach to protect forests from harmful pests in 16 states, including Arkansas, Indiana, South Carolina, and New Hampshire;
  • Phytophthora ramorum (sudden oak death pathogen) and related species: $513,497 in 14 states and nationally for survey, diagnostics, mitigation, probability modeling, genetic analysis, and outreach;
  • Solanaceous plants (including the tomato commodity): $434,000 to support surveys in 13 states including Texas, Mississippi, and South Carolina.

USDA will earmark $14 million to rapidly respond to invasive pest emergencies should a pest of high economic consequence be found in the United States. In the past, USDA has used these funds to rapidly respond to pests such as grasshoppers, Mormon crickets, the Asian giant hornet, coconut rhinoceros beetle, exotic fruit flies, and the spotted lanternfly.