This week has been a doozy. Problems with heating and then getting lots of plant samples with problems someway associated with the heat and drought. At College Station, we did get some rain on Thursday – but still not enough to overcome the current drought conditions. The drought (and heat) is expected to continue on…
On a different level, we are experiencing another drought. This year we have seen the effects of shrinking state and federal budgets affecting our programs. Most recently, the increase of fees at the Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic to enable us to continue to provide the service to the folks in Texas and beyond, and continue to meet the Extension mission. A funding source that we had relied on the last ten years was part of a federal grant (result of the Agricultural Bioterrorism Act of 2002) that funded the National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN). This network links all the university and/or state related plant diagnostic laboratories to enable for quick detection of plant health related issue that may impact our agriculture. A function of this network is also to ensure that plant diagnosticians are up to date on potential problem and can be at the forefront of protecting our plants (aka food and recreation source). The unofficial mantra has been “Catch it early, Don’t let pest/pathogen get a foothold, Keep ’em out!”. The NPDN program also allow for diagnosticians to educate the general public on critical issue to encourage and call for volunteers to be eyes at the local level to be “First Detectors”. Unfortunately, circumstances have the future funding for this program and the entire Food and Agriculture Defense Initiative (FADI) is endangered.
This is currently a critical period in congress for future funding of this program. The American Phytopathological Society and members of the NPDN are trying to encourage our state representatives (congressmen and senators) to support the future funding of this program and to continue investing in a network that serves as an early warning system and catcher of undesirable pest/pathogen into this country. If you would like to learn more about what NPDN does and the successes it has had in the past, please visit the APS -Public Policy Board website (http://www.apsnet.org/members/outreach/ppb/Pages/NPDN.aspx). Please consider contacting your state representatives to encourage them to continue to support the National Plant Diagnostic Network effort.
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