Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his department has allocated $45 million, authorized in the Farm Bill, for projects that will build strong systems to safeguard the health of agricultural industries using early plant pest detection and surveillance, and threat identification and mitigation. Funding will be provided to more than 50 cooperators including state departments of agriculture, universities, nonprofit organizations and USDA agencies in support of over 200 projects. According to Vilsack, the projects funded as part of this effort will ensure that farmers and specialty crop growers remain a viable segment of the national agricultural landscape.
The plan includes projects that will enhance plant pest and disease analysis and survey, strengthen pest identification and technology, safeguard nursery production and increase related public outreach and education about these issues. Projects include survey for pests along known risk pathways, risk assessment collaboration with states, national honeybee surveys, research on plant pest threats in the Caribbean, new diagnostic tools for plant pests and diseases, nursery audit training for state officials and outreach to help prevent the spread of invasive pests.
In the coming weeks, APHIS will be working with the more than 50 cooperators who will receive funds as they develop formal workplans, which will provide the details and information needed to initiate cooperative agreements.