In a press release, AmericanHort issued the following statement as USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced projects funded under the Plant Pest and Disease Mitigation and Disaster Prevention Program.
“The Plant Pest and Disease Mitigation and Disaster Prevention Program has a complicated name but adds great value for the horticultural industry; $70 million in special funding for harmful plant pest prevention, monitoring, and solutions” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Research. “AmericanHort advocated for the program’s creation in the Farm Bill and is pleased that it has since been made a permanent part of the USDA budget.”
A few highlights of this year’s funding awards:
• Development and training of detection dogs in agriculture will receive over 4.4 million dollars. Facilities in California, Florida, Pennsylvania (specifically for spotted lanternfly), and Guam were included in this pool of funding.
• Over two million dollars were allocated toward spotted lanternfly surveys and monitoring, outreach, modeling, control strategies, and canine detection.
• Boxwood health initiatives received $552,851 for boxwood blight research efforts led in Virginia and an outreach and education program in Oregon, including a new project to evaluate sterile insect technique and mating disruption of box tree moth.
• The Horticultural Research Institute, AmericanHort’s research foundation, will receive $49,600 to deploy an online risk assessment tool that simplifies the process for nurseries and greenhouses to implement the Systems Approach for Nursery Certification (SANC) program.
• Emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and Japanese beetle continue to be areas of concern, with over 1.6 million dollars set aside for biological controls, management, surveys, and outreach programs, collectively.
• General pest surveys and certification programs in greenhouse, nursery, and retail were awarded $556,744 across many states.
• Phytophthora ramorum surveys and eradication efforts were singled out with a total award of $452,762 across many states.
• A group of scientists will receive $140,000 to support an inter-laboratory validation project that will pave the way for deployment of “high-throughput sequencing” for faster diagnostics and release of new fruit-producing and flowering trees. This work is strongly supported by U.S. nurseries producing Prunus, Malus, Pyrus, and other plants.
“AmericanHort and Horticultural Research Institute welcome USDA-APHIS’ funding announcement,” said Dr. Jill Calabro, Director of Science and Research Programs at AmericanHort/HRI. “This program has become an indispensable tool as we work proactively to solve plant health challenges that harm our growers and landscapes, and to prevent the next one from happening.”