Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is allocating $50 million for projects that prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment. Funding is offered to implement projects at universities, federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, private companies and tribal organizations. These projects will advance the Farm Bill goals of early pest detection and the identification and mitigation of agricultural threats.
The projects were selected to: enhance plant pest/disease analysis and survey; target domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhance and strengthen pest identification and technology; safeguard nursery production; enhance mitigation capabilities; and conduct outreach and education about these issues.
"USDA is continuing its partnership with states, industry and other interested groups under the 2008 Farm Bill to prevent the entry of invasive plant pests and diseases, quickly detect those that may slip in and enhance our emergency response capabilities," said Vilsack. "I am pleased with the wide range and record number of project suggestions. They will provide strong protection to America's agricultural and environmental resources, and many will help nursery and specialty crop growers to flourish as the economy continues to recover."
USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service made a concerted effort to engage external stakeholders, such as the National Plant Board, Specialty Crops Farm Bill Alliance and USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service and U.S. Forest Service, in designing the evaluation criteria for the suggestions. More than half of the suggestion reviewers came from outside of APHIS.
The selection of the suggestions was not a competitive grant process. Suggestions were evaluated on their alignment with Section 10201 goals, the expected impact of the project, and the technical approach. In addition, the reviewers considered how the suggestions would complement ongoing USDA programs and other Section 10201 projects.
The FY 2011 funding plan and list of projects are posted at www.aphis.usda.gov/section10201.