USDA awards $950,000 for research against invasive pests

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced universities in four states will receive $950,000 in cooperative agreements for research against harmful pests and diseases.

"We have selected six research projects that will help identify effective means to prevent the introduction of invasive plant pests and animal diseases," said Conner. "Protecting agriculture from pests and disease is a major priority to protect our food security and economic investment through prevention, control and eradication."

The agreements announced today will provide funding to universities in California, Colorado, Indiana, and Mississippi. These research projects are competitively awarded by the Program of Research on the Economics of Invasive Species Management (PREISM), administered by USDA's Economic Research Service. Among the subjects the projects will examine are:

- mechanisms to prevent the entry of invasive species in agricultural imports by encouraging foreign exporters to reveal information about their presence in cargo;

- circumstances under which the government should use indemnification, insurance, and/or assistance with management to address poultry disease outbreaks;

- efficiency of alternative strategies for managing the spread of mobile pests, including incentives for participation in regional pest management organizations;

- economic effects of existing sanitary requirements for U.S. exports of livestock and germplasm, and the implications for animal disease surveillance;

- approaches to identify and select economically efficient strategies for managing invasive plant pests and foreign animal diseases.

The complete list of awards is below. PREISM studies will provide analytically based principles, guidelines, and criteria for invasive species policy and program decision making, as well as the economic information, modeling systems, or other tools that support the decision making.

FY 2007 PREISM Competitive Cooperative Agreements

- University of California-Riverside, Riverside, CA, $196,000

The project will examine mechanisms that may prevent the import of invasive species in agricultural commodities by encouraging foreign, private-sector exporters to reveal information about the presence of invasive species in cargo. Such mechanisms include random inspections, compensatory payments, early warning systems, and offshore pre-clearance programs.

- Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS, $180,000

The study will consider the circumstances under which government agencies should use indemnification, insurance, and/or assistance with management programs to manage poultry diseases such as avian influenza and exotic Newcastle disease.

- University of California-Davis, Davis, CA, $175,000 Researchers will examine the economic efficiency of alternative strategies for managing mobile insects and analyze incentives for homeowners and commercial growers to participate in regional pest management organizations, using the olive fruit fly, a pest spreading in California, as a case study. The project will consider effects of the pest's mobility between commercial groves, abandoned groves, and ornamental trees on public and private property, as well as on markets for olives and olive oil.

- Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO, $142,000

The project will estimate probability distributions of economic value for contingency plans to control and manage foot-and-mouth disease, and analyze preferred strategies.

- University of California-Davis, Davis, CA, $135,000

The study will evaluate institutions and incentives to encourage optimal levels, location, and timing of control of spreading invasive weeds. As part of the study, the researchers will examine optimal patterns and extent of control efforts for yellow starthistle in California.

- Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, $121,000

This project will quantify the effects of existing sanitary requirements facing U.S. exports of live animals, breeding stock, and germplasm, and prioritize livestock disease surveillance efforts for export purposes.

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