The U.S. Department of Agriculture is allocating almost $70 million to support 386 projects under the Plant Protection Act’s Section 7721 program, including 29 projects funded through the National Clean Plant Network. Funds will be used to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation, to safeguard the nursery production system and to respond to plant pest emergencies. Selected projects will be carried out by universities, states, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, nonprofits, and Tribal organizations. Since 2009, USDA has supported more than 4,000 projects and provided nearly $600 million in funding through the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program. “This program helps USDA build mutually beneficial partnerships with state governments, academic institutions, and other important agricultural cooperators across the country,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “Our cooperators use these USDA funds to conduct critical projects that keep U.S. crops, nurseries, and forests healthy, boost the marketability of agricultural products within the country and abroad.” This year, funded projects include, among others:
• Exotic fruit fly survey and detection: $5,800,000 in Florida and California;
• Agriculture detector dog teams: $4,124,783 to programs in California, Florida, and Guam to enhance package inspections, and training for these detector dog teams.
• Honey bee and pollinator health: $1,728,882 to protect honey bees, bumble bees and other important pollinators from harmful pests;
• Citrus: $463,280 to support citrus commodity surveys in California and Louisiana.
USDA is reserving $15.5 million of the $70 million in funding to support rapid response during invasive pest emergencies should a pest of high economic consequence be found in the United States. In the past USDA has used these funds to rapidly respond to pests such as Giant African snail, European cherry fruit fly, coconut rhinoceros beetle, exotic fruit flies, or spotted lanternfly.
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