On February 8, 2022, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is allocating $17.6 million to California as part of its effort to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, and threat mitigation, and to protect the U.S. nursery system. Overall, USDA is providing more than $70 million in funding this year to support 372 projects in 49 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. USDA provides this funding under the authority of the Plant Protection Act Section 7721.
“In 2019, California agriculture generated more than $50 billion in cash receipts and exports totaling about $21.7 billion. The state is a leader in U.S. agricultural production, and protecting that vital industry is essential to keeping our nation’s agricultural economy strong,” said USDA Under Secretary Jenny Moffitt. “These projects we are funding are focused on doing just that.”
These funds will support statewide projects covering a range of plant health and pest mitigation activities including, but not limited to:
- $4.5 million to survey for invasive fruit flies;
- $4 million to support agricultural detector dog teams, which search for harmful invasive plant pests in packages at mail and express parcel delivery facilities;
- $3.1 million to support National Clean Plant Network foundation plant stocks for citrus and other fruit trees, grapes, roses and other crops;
- $2 million to support state Emergency Plant Health Response teams in managing outbreaks of exotic plant pests;
- $1.2 million to further develop and evaluate the existing navel orangeworm sterile insect release program, which reduces the pest’s impact on the state’s $6 billion pistachio and almond crops;
- $446,000 to survey for Asian defoliator moths;
- $209,814 to develop tools for the identification of pheromones and related attractants for invasive cerambycid beetles, which impact economically significant crops;
- $350,000 to support pest and disease mitigation research to protect ornamental nurseries;
- $300,000 to conduct surveys for stone fruit commodities; and
- $268,500 to develop a technology that leverages contrast x-ray imaging and artificial intelligence to detect invasive pests.
Bolded items are most relevant to the Citrus Industry
Since 2009, USDA has supported more than 4,800 projects and provided nearly $740 million in PPA 7721 funding. Collectively, these projects allow USDA and its partners to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive plant pests and diseases. These projects also help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary to ensure disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers.
View the fiscal year 2022 Plant Protection Act’s Section 7721 spending plans on the USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website: www.aphis.usda.gov/ppa-projects.
USDA also announced that it is allocating a total of $3 million to support pest prevention activities in Texas. The funding includes support for several projects aimed at preventing the spread of Huanglongbing, including:
- $297,774 to study the impacts of phage therapies on bacterial plant pathogens;
- $266,514 to improve sterile insect technique;
- $252,750 to support National Clean Plant Network plant stocks for citrus and roses;
- $247,354 to improve the efficacy of therapeutics to Huanglongbing-infected citrus trees;
- $208,216 to develop a microbial control of Candidatus Liberibacter asiaticus to protect Texas citrus; and
- $155,010 for the deployment of a predatory mite (Amblyseius swirskii), to suppress Asian citrus psyllid populations in residential and organic citrus.
Additionally, USDA announced that it has allocated $4.7 million to the State of Florida for various pest prevention programs including:
- $1.3 million to support detector dog inspection and domestic pest detection;
- $372,188 to support the clean plant program for citrus; and,
- $127,763 to predict the dispersal risk following major weather events to guide rapid response efforts.