Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture would fund more than 300 projects in all 50 states to combat the growth of pest populations. The estimated $50 million required to fund these projects was authorized as part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
For the past several years, the spread of pests has been a major concern for American farmers. Partly due to increased international trade, the threat posed by invasive species has increased significantly. In addition, falling state revenues and agricultural spending cuts have led to major layoffs of public sector employees, including food and safety inspectors. Hawaii, for example, has ended up cutting a significant portion of its customs inspectors in the wake of the economic downturn.
Vilsack linked the increased funding with the elimination of threats to American agricultural production. In addition, he portrayed the agricultural sector as one of the few bright spots in the national economy.
“We are committed to partnering with our stakeholders to achieve our mutual goals of identifying and mitigating threats to American agriculture, enhancing our emergency response capabilities, and increasing public awareness of the danger of invasive pests and diseases,” said Vilsack. “American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in the United States and provides safe, affordable food to consumers. I am confident that the selected projects will help our farmers, ranchers and foresters continue to flourish and build upon these successes.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer