The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has allocated more than $5.5 million to Florida as part of its effort to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, and threat mitigation and to safeguard the U.S. nursery production system.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has received a significant portion of these funds to support numerous projects. The funding is provided under Section 7721 of the federal Plant Protection Act.
“With agriculture likely Florida’s top economic driver during this pandemic-fueled recession, it’s more important than ever that we protect our crops and nursery products from pests, pathogens, and plant diseases,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried on Monday. “We thank USDA for this vital funding that will help us detect and address threats to some of our top agricultural commodities.”
“Florida has about 47,000 farms and its agriculture and agribusiness contribute more than $132 billion to the state’s economy. Protecting Florida’s agricultural industry is critical,” said USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “These projects will help Florida protect its resources and contribute to USDA’s mission of keeping our nation’s agricultural economy strong.”
The FDACS Division of Plant Industry alone has received more than $4.1 million in Section 7721 funding for projects including:
- $1.4 million for high-risk pest rapid response and detector dog program
- $1 million to survey for invasive fruit flies
- $890,794 for giant African land snail eradication
- $372,188 to support National Clean Plant Network foundation plant stocks for citrus budwood
- $175,659 for biological control efforts against the cactus moth
- $153,996 to establish and evaluate Brazilian peppertree biological control
- Other projects are funded through UF/IFAS, USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, or USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and include:
- $261,293 for registration of Verticillium nonalfalfae to manage the invasive tree of heaven
- $160,972 for application of novel and effective oviposition deterrents for Bactrocera dorsalis and other invasive fruit flies
- $119,118 for identification of giant African snail odors for detector dog training
Overall, USDA is providing more than $70 million in funding this year to support 383 projects in 49 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. Since 2009, USDA has supported nearly 4,400 projects with more than $670 million in funding. Collectively, these projects allow USDA and its partners to quickly detect and rapidly respond to invasive plant pests and diseases. These projects help our country maintain the infrastructure necessary to ensure disease-free, certified planting materials are available to U.S. specialty crop producers. As the United States and the world recognize the International Year of Plant Health through June 2021, this funding highlights USDA’s continued commitment to safeguarding our agricultural resources for current and future generations.