USDA makes $5 million in farm bill support for national clean plant network available
By Top Crop Manager
June 30, 2014 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the allocation of $5 million to support 19 projects under the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) funded under the Agriculture Act of 2014 (the 2014 Farm Bill).
NCPN-funded facilities provide high-quality propagative plant material that is free of plant pathogens and pests that can otherwise cause economic losses to the American specialty crop industry, which includes fruits, vegetables and other crops.
"Invasive pests can endanger our nation's crops and food security. They cause billions of dollars in damage each year," says Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack. "The funds USDA is making available today will help partners and stakeholders prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten America's agriculture economy."
The Farm Bill funds provided to the NCPN help maintain the infrastructure necessary for growing disease and pest-free plants, improving diagnostic capabilities and providing therapeutic treatments in specialty crop plants, and establishing foundation stock . The goal is to make sure that disease-free, certified planting materials are available and ensure the global competitiveness of U.S. specialty crop producers. This year, 22 proposals requesting $7.8 million were submitted to NCPN to support developing and propagating pest-free fruit trees, grapes, hops, berries, citrus, roses and sweet potatoes.
The NCPN Governing Board, which is comprised of representatives from USDA APHIS along with representatives from USDA's Agricultural Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and members of the National Plant Board, recommended the projects to be funded and the level of funding.
The NCPN's Governing Board recommended funding 19 of the 22 NCPN proposals in 14 states. NCPN facilities receiving funding this year include $1.58 million for grapes, $1.28 million for citrus, $1 million for fruit and nut trees, $455,000 for berries, and $203,000, for hops. Additionally, APHIS is providing funding for exploratory planning to consider adding roses ($28,750) and sweet potatoes ($19,000) to the Network. Funds will support facilities in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington.