BOISE, Idaho -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns has announced the availability of nearly $13 million in emergency funding for potato cyst nematode (PCN) survey efforts.

"I'm pleased to announce today that we are dedicating $13 million to surveying efforts to eradicate for potato cyst nematode," said Johanns in remarks to the World Potato Congress. "The potato cyst nematode is a plant pest that poses a significant threat to the potato industry and our economy. This additional funding will ensure that there is a robust survey program in place to quickly detect and eradicate this pest, preventing its spread to seed potatoes or additional areas."

The USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture originally discovered PCN April 19 as part of the Cooperative Agricultural Pest Survey (CAPS), a surveillance program managed jointly by USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and state departments of agriculture.

USDA will provide approximately $7 million to Idaho for surveys and approximately $6 million will be used for a nationwide PCN survey. Approximately $1.5 of these funds have already been expended by USDA for these efforts since April. PCN, Globodera pallida, is a major pest of potato crops in cool-temperate areas. It primarily affects plants within the potato family including tomatoes, eggplants and some weeds. It does not post a threat to human health.

PCN infestations may be associated with patches of poor growth. Affected potato plants may exhibit yellowing, wilting or death of foliage-none of which has been observed in Idaho potato fields. If left unmanaged, nematodes can cause significant yield loss. The PCN is widely distributed in many potato-growing regions throughout the world.

Early detection of pests minimizes agricultural production costs and enhances product quality and marketability. Crop rotation and the use of certified seed and nematicides (fumigants or granular systemic compounds) are effective and practical means of suppression.

SOURCE: USDA news release.