ANLA, and our partners in the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, are encouraged by the broad bipartisan support for the 2013 Farm Bill, demonstrated by the Agriculture committees of the U.S. Senate and House. Last week both committees passed their respective version of the bill last week. The Senate passed their version with a 15-5 vote and the House passed theirs with a 36-10 vote. Both bills look largely like they did last year – before final passage of a new Farm Bill fell short due to inaction by the U.S. House. This year the Senate is reporting about $23 billion in savings over ten years and the House reporting nearly $40 billion in savings.
On May 13, USDA-APHIS proposed lifting the restrictions on the interstate movement of Berberis thunbergii varieties ‘Della’ and ‘O’ Byrne’ and Mahonia x media variety ‘Lionel Fortescue’. These three varieties were thoroughly evaluated by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service at the Cereal Disease Laboratory in St. Paul, MN and found to be resistant to Black Stem Rust (Puccinia graminis).
The USDA-APHIS recently announced a final decision on a list of propagative plants that will not be permitted for import under the Not Authorized Pending Pest Risk Analysis (NAPPRA) rule. The prohibited plant lists go into effect May 20, 2013 and include 31 taxa of plants for planting that were determined by the agency to be of potential invasive weed concern and 107 taxa of plants for planting that were identified to potentially carry invasive pests and/or diseases of significant concern from foreign countries to the US. The plants included on this NAPPRA list were initially made public in the fall of 2011 and included a 90-day comment period.
Last week the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) informed the USDA that Apple Proliferation Phytoplasma (APP) was identified from an apple orchard (Pacific Gala) in Nova Scotia, Canada. This marks the first discovery of the disease in North America. While it is still unknown how the tree became infected, trace-back information gathered by Canadian officials shows that in 2008 the tree was imported into Canada from a nursery in Washington State and the rootstock (M111) originated from Oregon. However, where and how the apple tree was initially infected remains unknown at this time and an investigation is underway. The infected trees in Nova Scotia have been placed under quarantine.<
On March 27th, USDA-APHIS posted online the long awaited results of the Farm Bill Section 10201 funding requests. This section of the Farm Bill is broadly defined as being dedicated to the identification, mitigation, and management of pests and diseases of specialty crops, which include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery and greenhouse crops. The release of these funds was delayed, largely due to concerns over the optics of funding Farm Bill programs at a time when budget cuts may mean staff furloughs. A week before the funds were released ANLA met with Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Edward Avalos, to encourage the release of the funds describing the need as immediate.