The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) allocated $48.1 million, provided by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the 2014 farm bill), to projects across the country that will help to prevent the introduction or spread of plant and crop pests and diseases that threaten America's agriculture economy and the environment.
Invasive insect and weed species have a potentially crippling effect on ecosystems, crop growth and the U.S. economy. Each year, according to the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), invasive pests cost the U.S. economy approximately $120 billion by damaging crops, requiring costly response efforts and closing foreign markets to U.S. products from infested areas.
APHIS is funding 383 projects in 49 states, as well as Guam and Puerto Rico. Prospective projects receiving funding were evaluated by teams comprised of USDA experts and industry representatives and were selected based on criteria that supported six goals: enhancing plant pest/disease analysis and survey; targeting domestic inspection activities at vulnerable points in the safeguarding continuum; enhancing and strengthening pest identification and technology; safeguarding nursery production; enhancing mitigation capabilities; and conducting outreach and education about these issues. The 2008 farm bill provided funding for more than 1,500 projects over the last five years.
"Invasive pests cause billions of dollars in damage each year and endanger our nation's food security," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a press release. "The funds USDA is making available today will help partners and stakeholders develop strategies, products and treatments to safeguard our farms and natural resources from invasive threats."