Soybean Rust Needs Coordinated Approach to Combat

With the inevitably of Asian soybean rust facing producers, ASA is urging the USDA to coordinate an emergency response plan. Jacqui Fatka

Published on: Jun 4, 2004

Early detection is key to preventing high yields losses from Asian soybean rust. And although the disease has not be detected in the United States, University of Illinois researchers predict that the disease could be carried by the wind and reach the U.S. sometime this growing season.

In an effort to equip the nation's soybean producers to prevent the disease from devastating the U.S. soybean industry, the American Soybean Association (ASA) is asking USDA to more rapidly undertake development of a national strategy for controlling and mitigating the potential for infestation in the continental U.S.

The Economic Research Service released a report, Economic and Policy Implications of Wind-Borne Entry of Asian Soybean Rust into the United States, in April. (This link requires your computer to have Adobe Acrobat Reader. For a free download, visit The analysis estimates that the expected value of net economic losses will range from $640 million to $1.3 billion for the first year of introduction. However this is assuming "that an effective soybean rust public surveillance and monitoring capability is in place, that cost-effective fungicides are available to treat soybean crops in amounts that are needed by farmers, and that public programs are available to provide farmers with the expertise needed to respond to a soybean rust infestation."

ASA President Ron Heck says his organization is asking the USDA to make the assumptions of the report come true and accelerate the development of an emergency response plan. On February 3, 2004, a presidential homeland security directive called for the Secretary of Agriculture to study and make recommendations to the Homeland Security Department to coordinate efforts to develop an emergency response system.

Heck suggests that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Agricultural Research Service scientists, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and scientists need to meet and coordinate the response system that includes protection and fungicide applications and even look at resistance seed varieties that can be used in the future.

"The reality that exists today is that an effective soybean rust surveillance program is not yet in place and adequate supplies of cost-effective fungicides approved for use on soybeans do not exist," Heck says. Programs are needed to provide widespread training and education to farmers, crop consultants, and others, he adds.

Luther Smith, executive director for the Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) Program, explains that many of his consultants need more in-depth training on diagnosing the disease and how to respond in an appropriate manner. Early detection will be key to preventing the disease from devastating the U.S. soybean crop. Smith explained the rust moves very fast. For instance, he has seen a field that went from zero infestation to 90% yield loss in only three weeks time.

To read more about soybean rust, read a previous article published on this Web site by clicking HERE. You will find links to pictures and crop scouting recommendations.