Stakeholder Funding Opportunities for Citrus Health Research
The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE) is authorized in the Agriculture Act of 2014 to award grants to eligible entities to conduct research and extension activities, technical assistance and development activities to:
Combat citrus diseases and pests, both domestic and invasive and including huanglongbing and the Asian citrus psyllid, which pose imminent harm to United States citrus production and threaten the future viability of the citrus industry; and
Provide support for the dissemination and commercialization of relevant information, techniques, and technologies discovered pursuant to research and extension activities funded through SCRI/CDRE and other research and extension projects targeting problems caused by citrus production diseases and invasive pests.
$25 million in mandatory funds are available until expended for fiscal years 2014 through 2018. The first Request for Applications (RFA) for this program was released June 12, 2014 with the first awards expected to go out in November 2014.
The HLB MAC Group was established with $1 M one year USDA funding and received an appropriation of $20 M, to be obligated by September 30, 2015, in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. The HLB MAC funding is specifically to be used to support development of tools and solutions that the citrus industry can utilize to fight HLB in the near term. Funding is allocated based on a Stakeholder Suggestion process. Industry, academia, and State and Federal researchers are all welcome to submit suggestions for potential funding through the Stakeholder Project Suggestion portal which will be open from July 1 through August 22. Suggestions should be for the scaling up or testing of methods that have been proven by previous research to be of near-term utility to the citrus industry for combatting HLB and its vector. The Stakeholder Project Suggestion System can be found at
2014 Farm Bill, Section 10007: Consolidation of Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Programs
In the 2014 Farm Bill, Section 10007 combines the legislative language for the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) with the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program (2008 Farm Bill Section 10201) in the Plant Protection Act. It authorizes permanent funding for both programs, giving $62.5 million per year in Commodity Credit Corporation funding from FY 2014-FY2017 and $75 million per year in FY 2018 and beyond. At least $5 million must go to NCPN annually.
Farm Bill Section 10007 funding is obligated each year based upon a suggestion submission, review and approval process that culminates with the Secretary of Agriculture. In past years the approved Spending Plan has resulted in hundreds of cooperative agreements with key partners to complete critical plant health projects within seven goal areas. The funding must be obligated within the fiscal year. Suggestions are submitted and reviewed each year as there is no guarantee of continued funding of any project in the Spending Plan.
Beginning in FY14 the Farm Bill Section 10007 Program coordinated with the Huanglongbing (HLB) Multi-Agency Coordination (MAC) Group for review of suggestions for projects related to HLB, resulting in projects that support HLB analysis activities and survey, outreach, inspection, and mitigation capabilities in the amount of $1,599,712. The Farm Bill Team will continue coordination with the HLB MAC Group when developing the Spending Plan for FY15 and beyond.
The HLB MAC Group has committed approximately $6.5 million for several citrus health research projects:
The first project will commit approximately $2 million to field test antimicrobials that have shown promise in combating HLB in laboratory and greenhouse studies. The HLB MAC group also supports field testing of other promising antimicrobials as those compounds are identified.
The second funding commitment, also for up to $2 million, will advance thermotherapy technology projects. Studies have shown that heating citrus trees to 120 degrees for approximately 48 hours can kill the HLB bacterium in the upper part of the tree, allowing the tree to regain productivity. This funding will help growers to implement and use this technology on a large scale in a quick and practical manner.
For the third project, the MAC Group is providing about $2.5 million to establish several model groves, in cooperation with Florida Citrus Health Management Areas. By using systematic surveys, timely chemical treatments, new planting strategies, and the removal of dead and abandoned groves (inoculum removal), growers can produce healthy citrus crops even in the presence of HLB.
USDA's Huanglongbing Multi-Agency Coordination Group (HLB MAC), led by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced funding allocations of more than $1.5 million to expand biocontrol efforts directed towards fighting Huanglongbing also known as citrus greening. This is the first designation of funds by the HLB MAC Group since it was established by Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in December 2013 and is their first step in fulfilling the commitment to providing practical tools and solutions to the citrus industry.
The Huanglongbing (HLB) MAC Group held its first face-to-face meeting in Riverdale, Md., on February 3 and 4, which included representatives from the California, Florida, and Texas citrus industry; Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas State departments of agriculture; USDA's Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture; and the Environmental Protection Agency.
MAC Group members clarified roles and responsibilities; identified several promising short-term, practical research opportunities; and began outlining the process for making funding decisions. Members will continue their discussions during weekly conference calls.
On February 7, the President signed the 2014 Farm Bill, which directs $125 million of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative funding toward citrus health research over the next 5 years. This funding will greatly expand the overall research effort. While the Farm Bill funding won't go directly to the HLB MAC Group, the Group will serve as a resource for determining funding priorities to maximize the coordination and effectiveness of all huanglongbing-related research activities.
The HLB MAC Group has decided to establish two parallel processes for funding short-term, practical HLB research projects:
Direct Funding Process - The HLB MAC Group will develop research project proposals for some of the most promising tools identified by Group members, with input from stakeholders. Tools chosen will have been previously tested to a sufficient degree that the Group believes they are ready to be scaled up and deployed in large-scale field trials. The Group is reaching out to industry, academia, and State and Federal partners to collaboratively develop these projects. Examples of project proposals the Group has discussed include biological control (using tiny wasps to control Asian citrus psyllids populations) and thermotherapy (using heat treatment to kill the HLB-causing bacteria in infected trees).
Stakeholder Suggestion Process - The HLB MAC Group will use an online suggestion system. Industry, academia, and State and Federal researchers can submit short-term, practical solution suggestions for potential funding in the following five areas: 1) Psyllid management, 2) Pre-symptomatic HLB detection, 3) Therapies to protect existing trees, 4) Sustainability of new plantings, and 5) Inoculum management.
Evaluation and funding decisions for the Stakeholder Suggestion Process submissions will be based on how well they meet the HLB MAC Group's primary criteria of bringing short-term solutions to citrus growers. Additional details, including submission instructions, deadlines, and formatting for suggestions, are currently being developed. We anticipate that the Stakeholder Suggestion Process will be open for submissions in April of this year.
The Citrus Health Science and Technology Coordination Group, which was established in 2009 and consists of industry and government representatives, will provide input and review of proposals developed through both processes.
Stakeholders are welcome to e-mail any questions they may have regarding these funding processes to Dr. Mary Palm, the HLB MAC Group Lead at Mary.Palm@aphis.usda.gov.
Congress and President Obama have taken significant action to bolster the fight against huanglongbing (HLB, or citrus greening). The 2014 Federal budget the President signed in January includes $20 million dollars for huanglongbing research projects to be determined by the HLB multi-agency coordination (MAC) Group. This funding is in addition to the $1 million USDA provided to the Group when Secretary Vilsack established it in December.