USDA To Increase PCN Control Funding In Idaho
In his Tuesday, August 22 address during the WPC luncheon, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced that an additional $13 million would be allocated to expand survey efforts for control of the potato cyst nematode recently found on two fields in eastern Idaho. This funding, in addition to the $1.5 million currently spent, brings the level to about $15 million total for PCN control. The industry luncheon was sponsored by BASF.
Johanns complimented the U.S. potato industry and recognized the world industry and its members during his address. He said that potatoes and potato products continue to gain popularity which helps increase markets around the world.
The Secretary also discussed efforts to make global free trade a reality and preserve international trade commitments by continuing the efforts from the Doha round. He mentioned Hong Kong as a nation that has agreed to eliminate all export subsidies by 2013, but commitment like this would be lost if Doha isn't successful.
Since becoming the secretary of agriculture, Johanns initiated meetings with farmers and ranchers across the nation to receive input on the 2007 Farm Bill. He personally chaired 21 of these meetings in 48 states.
"We wanted to hear from farmers and ranchers directly," Johanns said. "We had the chance to learn the state of American agriculture directly from the producers."
Johanns sited former President Eisenhower's sentiments saying there is no better way to understand agriculture than by getting out of Washington, DC and listening to farmers. From these meetings, Johanns learned of the general popularity of conservation reserve programs and of support for rural development.
The secretary also noted how basically five crops receive 93 percent of program subsidy payments while specialty crop growers receive virtually nothing. He advocates increasing support for these producers with investments to research and increasing efforts to open global markets.
Johanns noted that good agriculture policy should be equitable, dependable and understandable. He closed by saying, "This industry is strong because of your hardwork and devotion."