USDA Provides Nearly $80,000 for Maryland Farm Bill Surveys

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will receive nearly $80,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture via the 2014 Farm Bill. These funds will support three projects:  a Phytophthora ramorum survey, the development of an early detection system for exotic honey bee pests, and a grape commodity survey. “This funding gives us the ability to further our efforts in preventing the introduction and spread of plant pests, diseases and pathogens,” said Assistant Secretary for Plant Industries Carol Holko. “These projects address commodities that are integral parts of Maryland agriculture, and will help protect the industry and the consumer.”

The supported projects are listed below:

  • Grape Commodity Survey ($24,986): Many Maryland wineries buy grapes from other states for their wine production. Moving grapes (fruits and vines), both into and out of our state, makes it easier for an invasive pest to be introduced or established in Maryland. Surveys of these vineyards are important in keeping the industry safe from these harmful pests.
  • P. ramorum Survey ($35,000): The nursery industry is the second largest agricultural commodity in Maryland. Based on a crop cash value of more than $400 million, it is the number one cash crop in the state. The large nursery industry in the United States allows for the free flow of most nursery stock, increasing the possibility of establishing P. ramorum, a pathogen that causes sudden oak death, a disease. Because many large nurseries receive plants from areas known to have P. ramorum, a survey to test these highly susceptible stocks is crucial in marketing Maryland plant stock as free from P. ramorum.
  • Development of an Early Detection System for Exotic Honey Bee Pests ($20,000): To protect honey bees from exotic pests, the department will set 8-10 traps to collect data on exotic/invasive honey bee pests. Many of these traps will be concentrated along the Chesapeake Bay, a pathway that carries large amounts of international cargo.  Much of this cargo originates in countries that are known to have the invasive pests targeted by this survey. There will be more information on this project later this spring.
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