WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2010—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has allocated $45 million, provided by Section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill, for projects to build and preserve critical plant health safeguarding initiatives across America. 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. These state, regional, and national projects will support the Farm Bill goals of building strong systems to safeguard the health of our agricultural industries using early plant pest detection and surveillance, threat identification and mitigation.
"As called for in the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA is committed to working with states, industry and other interested groups to enhance our ability to prevent and detect plant pests and diseases as well increase emergency preparedness," said Vilsack. "Projects funded as part of this effort will ensure that farmers and specialty crop growers remain a viable segment of our national agricultural landscape."
In order to determine how best to meet the goals established by the 2008 Farm Bill, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) sought input and suggestions from stakeholders and used this feedback to develop a plan that considers the impacts and benefits of each project, as well as their sustainability and feasibility, among other considerations. Additionally, to promote a consistent, fair and transparent process in the development of the fiscal year 2010 spending plan for Section 10201 funding, APHIS developed criteria to assist in the evaluation of proposed projects.
The resulting 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, among many others. USDA estimates that there may be up to 400 jobs created or supported as a result of this funding.
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. This process will also ensure the spending plan is adjusted to meet any changes that may have taken place since the projects were initially evaluated, as well as adjustments to implement the projects.
Once funding obligations are finalized, APHIS will post a copy of the final spending plan to the APHIS Farm Bill Section 10201 Web site at www.aphis.usda.gov . This site also provides more information about USDA's plans under Section 10201 of the 2008 Farm Bill.