On March 18, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $57.9 million in funding for this year under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) ‘Section 10007″ program, which provides research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities of the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.
“A very significant portion of this funding is of benefit to our own industry,” said Lin Schmale, Society of American Florists’ (SAF’s) senior director of government relations. “We worked hard to increase the annual funding for this section of the Farm Bill, and continue to work with APHIS as it is implemented.”
In addition, SAF’s Lin Schmale and AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge were honored this year as recipients of the APHIS 2013 Safeguarding Award, along with other industry, state and federal team members, for their work leading up to 2013 spending plan.
“This announcement is wonderful news for the specialty crop industry, including floral and nursery crops,” said SAF’s COO Drew Gruenburg. “Plus, the APHIS recognition of Lin and Craig is a clear testament to their hard work and collaborative efforts.”
In discussing the Secretary’s announcement, Schmale noted that the industry understands the importance of improved capacity to identify and deal with plant pests and diseases, especially in the face of ever-expanding globalization.
“We continue to make working with APHIS and with other members of the specialty crop industry one of our highest priorities, and what we are able to achieve together is one of our proudest accomplishments,” she said.
Among this year’s projects specifically supported by SAF and AmericanHort:
• An important and innovative new project which will strongly benefit American Hort and SAF’s pollinator stewardship effort, by bringing together partners from beekeeping and the seed trade associations, and which adds $272,000 to the funds the industry is already targeting toward research on pollinators and industry efforts to identify “bee-friendly” plants and improve chemical management practices.
• Funding to continue the industry’s long-term effort to recognize greenhouses and nurseries using “best management practices” through a voluntary certification program that will allow expedited (and less expensive) interstate shipments of plant material.
• More than $417,000 to continue, for the third year, a multi-institution research project on downy mildews, focusing on Impatiens Downy Mildew, its overwintering capacity, improved controls and other aspects of this devastating problem. This project pulls together researchers from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, APHIS, IR-4, Cornell, Michigan State, North Carolina State, and the University of Florida.
• Over $264,000 to a joint University of Florida-Florida Department of Agriculture project continuing the study of invasive whitefly species.
• $85,000 in continued funding to a study of rapid diagnostics for rose rosette disease.
• A fourth year of funding, at $834,000, on boxwood blight, a significant pathogen concern of nursery growers.
• Significant continued funding, through a variety of projects, on Phytophthora ramorum, or “sudden oak death.”
• Over $180,000 to improve diagnostic tools for Ralstonia solanacearum.
• $70,000 to help a project aimed at certifying that calladiums are free of grassy tuber disease.
• $54,000 to better identify nematode species, to help improve port clearance procedures for plant material.
• Finally, and of potential significance to herbaceous as well as perennial and woody crops, is the continued funding for the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN), which has traditionally focused on helping to provide plants free of viruses and other pathogens to the nursery trade, but has potential for other segments of the industry.