Press Releases


Agency: United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Programs

Project Title: Applied Agriculture and Environmental Research, CA
Recipient:  California State University, Fresno Foundation
Location:  4910 North Chestnut Avenue, Fresno, CA, 93726
Amount Requested:  $3,500,000

The California State University Agricultural Research Initiative (ARI) funds competitive research on high-priority issues challenging the nation’s agriculture industry, the environment, and consumer health and safety.  Federal investment is warranted because all research results are made available in the public domain, open to use by farmers and producers nationwide to improve agricultural practices.

The ARI leverages a minimal federal investment to secure state and industry resources.  Last fiscal year, with a budget of approximately $10 million, including less than $1 million in federal funding, ARI funded 84 research projects, covering such diverse matters as environmentally sustainable water systems, reducing chemical use on rice with improved biological controls, biofuels research, and reducing ammonia emissions from fertilizers and dairy production to decrease agriculture’s impact on air quality.

This year, funding priority will be given to projects addressing key issues such as climate change, air quality, and carbon sequestration; food safety; water quality and infrastructure; and invasive species prevention and eradication.  The ARI program, headquartered at Fresno State, currently operates on four campuses, and this federal funding will allow the program to expand to more campuses in the California State University system.

Project Title:  California County Pest Detection Augmentation Program
Recipient:  California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association
Location:  142 Garden Highway, Yuba City, CA  95991-5512
Amount Requested: $1,000,000

The Federal government provides agricultural inspections along California’s border and ports of entry – a vital safeguard against serious agricultural and environmental invasive pests. In addition, California’s County Agricultural Commissioners operate a statewide insect detection augmentation program that serves as an early warning system and provides a critical secondary line of defense against invasive pests.

Non-native pests can arrive and cross the State in undeclared food and plants at any of California’s international seaports, airports, or land ports of entry where federal agriculture inspections occur. Federal agricultural inspections at California’s border and ports of entry are not infallible, and invasive pests are sometimes able to breach this initial line of defense. The California County Pest Detection Augmentation Program is a statewide network of insect traps and other detection tools that serves to complement and enhance the federal inspection process, by providing additional safeguards.  These traps have resulted in the discovery of eighty-two total species of new pests, including the Asian Citrus Psyllid, a vector for Huanglongbing Disease, which has already decimated Florida’s citrus industry.  If any of these pests had gone undetected and become established, eradication and control efforts would have been a significant financial burden for county, state and federal governments.

California produces more than half of the nation’s fruit, nuts and vegetables, with many crops grown solely in the State.  Protecting the State’s agricultural base is critical to ensuring the safety of this vital national food source and protecting agriculture across the country from invasive pests. Federal funding is used to leverage state and local resources, and is warranted because any new non-native pests detected and destroyed in California are less likely to establish themselves in other states.

Project Title:  California County Pest Detection Import Inspection Program
Recipient:  California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association
Location:  142 Garden Highway, Yuba City, CA  95991-5512
Amount Requested: $1,000,000

The California County Agricultural Commissioners’ Import Inspection Program inspects cargo and postal terminals inside California’s borders, such as nurseries, airports, warehouses, post offices, and express carriers to augment federal customs agricultural inspections. The requested funds will assist in the hiring of ten agricultural inspectors and training two additional USDA-certified dog inspection teams to search incoming shipments for pests and diseases of federal concern, to stop potential introductions and infestations.

California is the nation’s gateway to the Pacific Rim, with some of the nation’s busiest seaports and airports, as well as the world’s busiest land port of entry on its international border with Mexico, all of which are potential locations through which these pests can be transported.  Customs inspectors are burdened with many duties, and this program allows California to assist the federal government in its responsibility to safeguard our borders.  These inspection teams have successfully stopped dozens of invasive pests from being introduced into California and then spreading to other states. The State of California provides $30 million to administer this program annually.

Project Title:  Fresh Produce Food Safety Research
Recipient:  University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Location:  1111 Franklin Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200
Amount Requested:  $500,000

The Fresh Produce Food Safety Research program is a competitive research program to study the sources and causes of food-borne illnesses.  This research deserves federal investment because consumer confidence in fresh produce is critical; these foods are essential to achieving national nutrition enhancement and obesity-reduction goals, and contribute significant economic benefits to the nation.

The University of California manages this funding, administering a statewide competition for research related to food contamination, particularly microbial contaminants affecting leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables.  Recent incidents of E. coli, salmonella, and other microbial contaminants, resulting in serious illnesses and several deaths, highlight the need for this research.  The tools discovered through this important research program have the potential to significantly reduce the risk of contracting food-borne illness.

Project Title:  Pierce’s Disease and Invasive Pest Research, CA
Recipient:  University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Location: 1111 Franklin Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 94607-5200
Amount Requested:  $3,000,000

This competitive research program focuses on developing long-term solutions for the control of invasive pests and the diseases that they may carry that could negatively impact agriculture.  This important research deserves federal support as it can benefit agricultural producers nationwide, providing them with eradication and control methods should any of the pests become established in other states.

Pierce’s Disease is a terminal infection for grapevines, carried by the Glassy-winged Sharpshooter.  This competitive and peer-reviewed research program builds upon a successful record of past applied research accomplishments to find a long-term solution to Pierce’s Disease.  California bears the brunt of the damage caused by invasive pests and diseases entering the U.S., due to its international border, multiple ports of entry, and the nation’s most productive agricultural industry.  Expanded research will focus on other invasive species impacting California and the nation, including pathogens (West Nile virus, avian and swine influenza, Sudden Oak Death), insects (vine mealy bug, light brown apple moth), marine and fresh water species (Quagga and zebra mussels), and weed species (yellow star thistle).

Project Title:  Water Management Research Laboratory, Brawley, CA
Recipient: Agricultural Research Service
Location: 4151 Highway 86, Brawley, CA  92227
Amount Requested:  $340,000

Due to its location in the desert environment of the Imperial Valley, scientists at the Water Management Research Laboratory are able to conduct unique research on water management, irrigation techniques, soil salinity, salt-tolerant crop production and pest management.  Innovations learned at the Brawley Agricultural Research Station are vitally important to the Southwest and other parts of the country where water is or will be scarce and high salinity makes the soil unproductive.

The Imperial Valley is unique because the salinity in this area is significant in both the soil and water.  These conditions do not exist at any other federal agricultural research facility, making this project critical in a region where farming and ranching are paramount drivers of the economy.  The federal research being conducted at this facility has the potential to provide solutions to nationwide problems such as water pollution, salinity, and water management, particularly in water-scarce regions.  This program is managed by the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service.

Conservation Programs

Project Title:  Dry Creek Watershed, City of Rocklin, CA
Recipient:  City of Rocklin
Location:  3970 Rocklin Road, Rocklin, CA 95677
Amount Requested:  $500,000

The City of Rocklin is undertaking a project to restore a section of Antelope Creek, part of the Dry Creek Watershed, to provide increased flood protection, reduce erosion and improve the aquatic habitat.  The creeks flowing through Placer County have historically accommodated salmon runs and rearing habitat in the Sacramento River system.  Federal investment in salmon habitat will reduce the need for continued disaster assistance, currently required for the fishermen who depend on the fishery for their livelihood.  This funding will be provided through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which partners with local governments and private landowners to assist them in implementing conservation projects.

The Rocklin area is completely urbanized and the creek is frequently subject to flooding and erosion.  The project consists of moving the current channel away from the steep, cliff-like banks that are being eroded, which will improve water quality for salmon habitat, and will also decrease the incidence of flooding upstream.  The Sacramento River salmon hatchery is experiencing drastic decreases in stock, which has led to the closure of the West Coast salmon fishery for the last two years.

Project Title:  Municipal Water District of Orange County for Efficient Irrigation, CA
Recipient:  Municipal Water District of Orange County
Location:  18700 Ward Street, Fountain Valley, CA  92708
Amount Requested:  $200,000

These funds allow the Municipal Water District of Orange County to purchase and install smart-technology irrigation devices.  This program deserves federal investment because it provides an effective national model for water conservation and efficient use in an area where water supply is increasingly restricted.  This funding will be provided through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which partners with local governments and private landowners to assist them in implementing conservation projects.

The system tracks weather conditions, soil, slope, and type of landscape, and delivers water as needed.  The water district indicates that once implemented countywide, at least 40,000 acre feet will be saved annually and 2.3 million residents will benefit.  Funding will be used to expand an existing $2.6 million program launched in 2004 to distribute an additional 5,500 Smart Irrigation Controllers by the end of 2011 to residential and commercial properties in the County.  At the end of 2008, a total of 4,200 installations had been completed.

Rural Development Programs

Project Title: Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas
Recipient:  National Center for Appropriate Technology
Location:  3040 Continental Dr., Butte, MT 59701
Amount Requested:   $3,000,000

The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas and National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service were reauthorized for funding by the 2008 Farm Bill (P.L. 110-246, section 6016).  This is a unique technical assistance service provided through a public/private partnership and a cooperative agreement between USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service and the National Center for Appropriate Technology, a national nonprofit organization.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service provides information and technical assistance to farmers and ranchers through a toll free telephone service and a website.  This service is one of the most effective tools America’s farmers have to learn about best practices for pest management, irrigation, reducing pesticide use, water quality protection, and farm-based renewable energy.  As the only national program to provide one-on-one technical assistance on sustainable agriculture and marketing to all fifty states, this program warrants federal investment.  The organization’s staff includes highly qualified individuals representing a broad spectrum of agricultural disciplines including horticulture, agronomy, animal science, agriculture economics and marketing.