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AmericanHort Welcomes Farm Bill Pest and Disease Funding

Friday, March 23, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Columbus, OH – AmericanHort enthusiastically welcomed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue’s announcement earlier today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating almost $70 million in new funding for invasive plant pests and disease projects. The funding is intended to prevent the introduction or spread of pests that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment, and to sustain the infrastructure necessary to ensure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. nurseries and specialty crop producers.

“Through the Farm Bill Section 10007, the USDA strengthens our nation’s ability to safeguard U.S. specialty crops, agriculture, and natural resources by putting innovative ideas into action,” said Secretary Perdue in the USDA announcement.

These funds, provided through Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill, will support 494 projects in 49 states and two U.S. territories. Many of these projects will directly benefit the horticulture industry.

The Horticultural Research Institute, the research foundation of AmericanHort, was awarded $117,100 for its ongoing work to complete the Systems Approach to Nursery Certification (SANC) pilot program. “This unique federal, state, and industry partnership is changing how we think about regulatory oversight of plant production and the horticultural marketplace,” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort senior vice president for advocacy and research. “We are eager to complete the pilot and for SANC to be fully operational,” he added.

In addition to the funding for HRI, other notable projects include the following:

  • Chilli thrips is a relatively new invasive pest in Florida and Texas on ornamental plantings. More than 100 hosts are known, including Celosia, pepper, rose, English ivy, and many more. A collaborative project led by Dr. Lance Osborne, University of Florida, received over $77,000 to develop an IPM program from identification to development of knowledge-based management strategies.
  • Whitefly, Biotype Q (also known as MED), is a known pest in greenhouse production, a threat to cotton and vegetable crops, and more recently became a concern in Florida landscapes. Neonicotinoids generally are effective control methods; however, their use has faced scrutiny due to pollinator health issues. Dr. Osborne will lead another collaborative effort to find effective alternatives to neonicotinoids for Q control, in a project that received over $88,000.
  • Over $1 million in funding for various projects to better understand and address exotic Phytophthoras, including P. ramorum and a newer emerging threat, P. tentaculata. This funding includes program support for the National Ornamentals Research Site at Dominican University of California (NORS-DUC), a unique facility where Phytophthora work is done in a nursery setting.
  • $55,000 to continue work toward developing best management practices to address crown gall of Loropetalum, an emerging disease threat.
  • National Clean Plant Network: Over $6 million will be provided to support 28 projects in 18 states that focus on providing high quality propagative plant material for fruit trees, grapes, berries, citrus, hops, sweet potatoes, and roses free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.

“The Sec. 10007 – Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention program is a unique and effective tool supporting horticulture and other specialty crops,” said Regelbrugge. “With a new Farm Bill set to be debated in Congress soon, preserving and strengthening this key tool that supports our growers perform and succeed will remain at the top of the priority list for AmericanHort,” he added.

Brought to you by AmericanHort.