Though there are many examples that could be cited, the need for a viable ongoing research infrastructure at USDA is no better demonstrated than by the sudden emergence of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB), which has spread to 43 states. USApple estimates that research funded by the Specialty Crop Research Initiative has yielded savings to growers of at least $800 million on apples alone – a return on investment of roughly 40 times the $20 million cost of the two five-year research efforts. When other agricultural crops that the BMSB attacks are included, the savings are estimated to exceed $2 billion. With the newly emerging major threat posed by the Spotted Lanternfly, research funding is critically needed to prevent catastrophic losses from this new and potentially devastating pest.
USApple strongly supports funding for key USDA programs:
- The Specialty Crop Research Initiative– Specific projects with multi-state and multi-institutional impact include development of new Integrated Pest Management practices to enhance workplace safety and reduce environmental impact (Calif., Mich., Ore., Utah, Wash.), and application of modern genomics and genetic technologies to create apple cultivars with consumer-preferred traits (Ark., Calif., Fla., Mich., Minn., N.Y., Texas, S.C., Wash.).
- USDA-Geneva Apple Rootstock Breeding Program – Consumers and growers nationwide benefit greatly from improved disease resistance and increased productivity provided by new rootstock varieties. Research is being conducted in the following states – Idaho, Mass., Md., Mich., N.J., N.Y., Ohio, Ore., Pa., Va., W.Va and Wash.
- The National Clean Plant Network – The National Clean Plant Network was created to protect U.S. specialty crops including apples from the spread of economically harmful plant pests and diseases. The tree fruit, grape, and nursery industries rely on the NCPN as the single nationally-certified source of plant material free of potentially devastating diseases.