Sara Muri, Farm Journal Crops Online Editor
A government program that has saved farmers an estimated $299 million in 2005, $299 million 2006 and $209 million in 2007, according to USDA's Economic Research Service, is in danger of not having funding in 2009.
The American Soybean Association (ASA) is requesting help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to secure funding for the Integrated Pest Management Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (ipmPIPE), a soybean rust early warning and management system.
"We regret that the broken Congressional appropriations process leaves us with no option but to seek USDA funding for this critical program," said ASA President John Hoffman, a soybean producer from Waterloo, Iowa. "Soybean farmers have been and remain willing to work with USDA. In each year since 2005, more than $500,000 of state and national checkoff funding has been contributed toward this effort. But soybean farmers cannot assume the entire responsibility and cost of this program by themselves."
ASA said the ipmPIPE has been highly effective in helping growers make informed decisions about fungicide application.
The system includes:
- a surveillance and monitoring network
- a Web-based information management system
- criteria for deciding when to apply fungicides
- predictive modeling
The program was developed in 2004 between agencies at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the soybean industry. USDA's Risk Management Agency has provided more than $2 million in funding for this program in each of the last three years.
"While losses due to rust have not been severe, growing conditions in the last several years have been atypical, mainly due to drought in Southern and Southeastern states, which inhibits the spread of rust," Hoffman said. "We will not be protected from soybean rust without the tools that ipmPIPE provides."
ASA said they strongly support the continuation of ipmPIPE. ASA is asking Secretary Schafer for his commitment to continue this highly effective and critically important program.
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