By Pat Raia
The State of Florida has been allocated more than $3 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support a range of plant health activities in the State. Florida is home to about 47,000 farms. Its agricultural operations and agribusinesses contribute more than $132 billion to the State’s economy annually, according to the USDA.
USDA Under Secretary Greg Ibach said that on Jan. 7, the agency allocated $3.7 million for pest detection and surveillance, identification, and threat mitigation, in order to safeguard the U.S. nursery production system from harm.
In Florida the funds will, among other things, provide $1 million to survey invasive fruit flies; $453,757 to establish and evaluate Brazilian peppertree biological control; and $429,448 to support the National Clean Plant Network foundation plant stocks for citrus and grapes.
Iback said that the allocation is vital to helping the state’s economy thrive.
“Protecting Florida’s agricultural industry is critical,” Ibach said. “These projects will help Florida protect its resources and contribute to USDA’s mission of keeping our nation’s agricultural economy strong.”
Franco Ripple, communications director for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) said that the allocation represents the annual Plant Protection Act funding, a competitive system through which the FDACS’ Division of Plant Industry applies each year.
“As always, we are very appreciative of the USDA’s efforts to help states protect the U.S. food supply, as well as Florida’s elected officials for ensuring that agricultural safeguarding monies continue to be available to the state of Florida,” said FDACS Commissioner Nicole Fried.
In a written statement, the Florida Farm Bureau Federation (FFBF) said that the allocation will help growers meet the state’s unique pest prevention challenges.
“Due to climate and geography, Florida agriculture is uniquely susceptible to a wide range of foreign pests and diseases, which could lead to widespread devastation if unaddressed,” the FFBF statement said. “USDA’s latest award of funding will help ensure these necessary preventive efforts are properly funded and implemented.”