Bugging Us to The Tune of $120 Billion

The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) protects the health and value of American agriculture and our natural resources.  According to a Cornell University study released in 2004, invasive pest species not common in the U.S. are causing major environmental damages and economic losses adding up to almost $120 billion per year. An earlier 1997 General Accounting Office report estimated the national cost to taxpayers from invasive species was close to $41 billion annually in lost production, prevention, and control expenses.

It is estimated there are approximately 50,000 foreign SPECIES and the number is increasing.

What is causing the proliferation of invasive species in the U.S.?  One reason is increased international trade and travel.  Travelers love to bring home an exotic fruit or plant that they came across during their trip.  And, while this may seem innocent, without knowing it, there may be a stowaway pest on such fruits.  Once a pest becomes established or spreads significantly, the cost to eradicate, suppress, or manage it can be in the millions of dollars—not to mention the economic costs in lost crops and damage to native ecosystems.

Congress Responds to Threat of Foreign (Pest) Invasion

Congress responded to this national threat in 2008 with the adoption of Section 10201 in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) (P.L. 110-146).  These provisions allow for uninterrupted funding to combat pests and diseases in the U.S. that are oftentimes unremitting and biological in nature.  Congress also provided criteria for the wise and targeted use of taxpayer funds.  Section 10201 of the Farm Bill explicitly mandates funding “shall (be made) available to carry out this section,” that includes “(b) Early plant pest detection and surveillance….(c) Threat Identification and Mitigation Program…..(and) (d) Specialty Crop Certification and Risk Management Systems.”  Congress authorized a total $407 million in the 10-year agriculture budget baseline for this program.

Secretary of Ag can step in

Further, the statute is clear with regard to special funding considerations that are based on potential pest pathways. The Secretary of Agriculture shall provide funds to a state department of agriculture if the Secretary determines that the state department of agriculture is in a state that has a high risk of being affected by 1 or more plant pests or diseases, taking into consideration the following important priorities:

  • the number of international ports of entry in the state;
  • the volume of international passenger and cargo entry into the state;
  • the geographic location of the state and if the location or types of agricultural commodities produced in the state are conducive to agricultural pests and diseases;
  • crop diversity or natural resources (including unique plant species) of the state; and
  • whether the Secretary has determined that an agricultural pest or disease in the state is a federal concern

Noting the overwhelming popularity of the program members of the House Agriculture Committee and the U.S. Senate reauthorized pest and disease management language in both their versions of the 2012 farm bill and combined provisions for a National Clean Plant Network.

Cansler Consulting invited to participate in 2013 APHIS process

APHIS is initiating the pest and disease management program for 2013 and Cansler Consulting is excited about the opportunity to represent clients among stakeholders invited to participate in this year’s process.  APHIS maintains six goals for the program including :

  1. Enhance analysis and survey,
  2. Target domestic inspection,
  3. Enhance Pest ID and technology,
  4. Safeguarding nursery production,
  5. Conduct outreach and education, and
  6. Enhance mitigation capabilities.

These goals help APHIS, the National Plant Board and stakeholders determine how to best allocate resources among the multiple projects submitted for consideration each year. During FY 2012, 520 applications were received for projects totaling nearly $100 million (total program authorized level is $50 million).

What this means…

So what does this mean to your agriculture based business?

  • First, if the right conditions are met, The Secretary of Agriculture has the power to provide special funding to states that are most at risk for certain pests and plant diseases.
  • APHIS and the National Plant Board received applications for 520 projects totaling nearly $100 million, but only $50 million is authorized so project funding will be competitive.
  • Projects initiated and ongoing that receive funding from Section 10201 have been successful.  The U.S. House Agriculture Committee and the U.S. Senate reauthorized pest & disease management provisions in both their versions of the 2012 farm bill and combined provisions for a National Clean Plant Network.  While Section 10201 is mandatory funding, the looming budget threats including across-the-board cuts of 8.2% in USDA’s discretionary budget could strain the program as additional applications may be submitted from program areas receiving cuts making this program more competitive than ever.

Cansler Consulting is a certified lobbying practice that is experienced in the multi-faceted and inter-related industries of Agriculture, Food and Drug Safety, Immigration, Transportation & Infrastructure, International Trade and Energy. Through our congressional and regulatory relationships established for over two decades we can help you influence the policy makers on Capitol Hill and navigate the federal budgeting process. You can contact us at [email protected] or at (202) 220-3150.

Tim Cansler