Mar 4, 2020
USDA Provides $70 Million to Help Battle Pests, Diseases By Tim Hodson

Earlier this week, the USDA announced it is allocating almost $70 million to support 386 projects under the Plant Protection Act’s Section 7721 program “to strengthen the nation’s infrastructure for pest detection and surveillance, identification, threat mitigation, to safeguard the nursery production system and to respond to plant pest emergencies.”

Selected projects will be carried out by universities, states, federal agencies, and other nongovernmental organizations in 48 states and territories.

Commenting on the USDA’s move, Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s senior vice president for advocacy and research, said, “The Plant Pest and Disease Mitigation and Disaster Prevention Program has a complicated name but adds great value for the horticultural industry; $70 million in special funding for harmful plant pest prevention, monitoring, and solutions.”

“AmericanHort advocated for the program’s creation in the Farm Bill and is pleased that it has since been made a permanent part of the USDA budget,” he added.

“This program helps USDA build mutually beneficial partnerships with state governments, academic institutions and other important agricultural cooperators across the country,” said Greg Ibach, Under Secretary for USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs. “Our cooperators use these USDA funds to conduct critical projects that keep U.S. crops, nurseries, and forests healthy, boost the marketability of agricultural products within the country and abroad.”

The project list includes 29 projects funded through the National Clean Plant Network, to provide high quality propagated plant material free of targeted plant pathogens and pests.

Since 2009, USDA has supported more than 4,000 projects and provided nearly $600 million in funding through the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program.

“AmericanHort and Horticultural Research Institute welcome USDA-APHIS’ funding announcement,” said Dr. Jill Calabro, director of science and research programs at AmericanHort/HRI. “This program has become an indispensable tool as we work proactively to solve plant health challenges that harm our growers and landscapes, and to prevent the next one from happening.”

You can learn more about the Plant Protection Act on the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service website at

— Tim


Lowe’s, Habitat for Humanity Team Up for Women

This week, Habitat for Humanity, Lowe’s and approximately 6,000 women volunteers will unite in more than 235 communities for International Women Build Week to highlight the global need for safe and affordable housing. The global event aims to build and improve 540 homes while raising awareness of housing issues facing women and their families. “Lowe’s and Habitat have seen first-hand the transformative power women can have when we come together for communities in need,” said Jennifer Weber, Lowe’s executive vice president and board chair of the Lowe’s Foundation.

Whole Foods’ Foundation Invests in School Salad Bar Program

Whole Foods has announced that its Whole Kids Foundation will provide 153 new salad bars to schools in the U.S. this year. The $502,153 investment will ensure more than 76,000 students will have access to fresh, healthy produce at school. With this year’s investment in Salad Bar grants, and in partnership with Salad Bars to Schools, Whole Kids Foundation will have provided 5,794 school salad bars since 2011. Salad Bars to Schools is a public-private partnership founded by Whole Foods Market, Chef Ann Foundation, National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance and United Fresh Start Foundation.

Wegmans Makes Fortunes Best Companies to Work For List — Again

Wegmans has been named one of the 2020 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For. This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Fortune list.  The New York-based grocer has been on the list every year, and this year ranks #3. According to the Great Place to Work, this year’s list is based on survey responses from more than 650,000 employees rating their workplace culture on 60-plus elements of the workplace. These elements included trust in managers, respect, fairness and camaraderie. The ranking accounted for the experiences of all employees across all demographics.

Tim Hodson

Tim Hodson is the editorial director of GPN and Big Grower. He can be reached at [email protected]

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