(BOISE) Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Pat Takasugi told the country's top agriculture policymaker Tuesday that the federal government is doing a good job assisting the state in the fight against potato cyst nematode.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns told a crowd of international delegates, media and other officials at the World Potato Congress that the federal government is chipping in another $13 million to help with the potato cyst nematode survey effort.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant Health Inspection Service has been working closely with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture since the discovery of potato cyst nematode in Idaho.
The plant pest was discovered in April at a potato grading facility in eastern Idaho. Since that discovery, nearly 8,000 soil samples have been collected, but only two eastern Idaho fields have come up positive for the cyst.
After Johanns' keynote remarks, Takasugi visited privately with Johanns. The two discussed potato cyst nematode, the next Farm Bill and other issues facing Idaho agriculture.
Takasugi told Johanns that the next Farm Bill is an opportunity to usher in some exciting changes for Idaho agriculture. For example, Takasugi said it would be helpful to have incentives that allow for biofuels generated on the farm to be used in a grower's own tractors and trucks. That would eliminate the fear of high fuel prices or shortages affecting a grower's bottom line or his harvesting of crops.
The director said the U.S. government's next farm policy should refocus efforts on domestic marketing. While efforts to promote products overseas are important, the marketing of U.S.-grown products to domestic consumers should remain an important segment of overall sales, Takasugi said.
Takasugi also urged Secretary Johanns to keep the federal government from asserting itself into state-run warehouse programs. Takasugi said several states, including Idaho, have developed good programs to indemnify growers in the event of a warehouse failure.