Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating $50 million, provided by Section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill, for projects that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment.
"USDA is continuing its partnership with states, industry and other interested groups under the 2008 Farm Bill to prevent the entry of invasive plant pests and diseases, quickly detect those that may slip in and enhance our emergency response capabilities," said Vilsack. "I am pleased with the wide range and record number of project suggestions. They will provide strong protection to America's agricultural and environmental resources, and many will help nursery and specialty crop growers to flourish as the economy continues to recover."
Funding is offered to many states and U.S. territories to implement projects at universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations. These projects will advance the Farm Bill goals of early pest detection and the identification and mitigation of agricultural threats.
USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) made a concerted effort to engage external stakeholders, such as the National Plant Board, Specialty Crops Farm Bill Alliance and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and U.S. Forest Service, in designing the evaluation criteria for the suggestions. More than half of the suggestion reviewers came from outside of APHIS.
The FY 2011 funding plan and list of projects are posted here.
The selection of the suggestions was not a competitive grant process. Suggestions were evaluated on their alignment with Section 10201 goals, the expected impact of the project, and the technical approach. In addition, the reviewers considered how the suggestions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other Section 10201 projects.
The selected projects were organized around six Section 10201 goal areas: enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. Examples of specific projects include a nationwide survey of honey bee pests and diseases, the monitoring of high-risk international and domestic pathways for invasive species, applied research to combat citrus pests, the exploration of the feasibility of an audit-based certification system to prevent the movement of infested nursery stock, and a national public awareness campaign on invasive pests and targeted eradication efforts for plum pox virus.
Over the last two years, Section 10201 projects have played a significant role in many USDA successes in protecting American agriculture and educating the public about the threat of invasive species. These successes include, among many others, the eradication of plum pox virus in Pennsylvania and a recent Mediterranean fruit fly outbreak in Florida, surveys for European grapevine moth in California, the 2010 national survey of honey bee pests and diseases and the production of a documentary ("Lurking in the Trees") to increase public awareness of the Asian longhorned beetle-a serious pest of hardwood trees-that has been broadcast widely on public television.