Money in the PIPE

Soybean rust information network with online, real time information receives funding from USDA to stay in operation this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday that it will fund the Soybean Rust Pest Information Platform for Education and Extension – also known as PIPE, found at

The much-used Website was in jeopardy of going off the air for lack of funding, not only for the site but for the support network that feeds information to the site. PIPE has been funded with more than $2 million of federal money for each of the last four years – starting the first season after soybean rust was found in the United States. PIPE is a coordinated framework that 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 and outreach. The development of the web-based tracking and early-warning system has greatly enhanced the ability of farmers to manage risk and avoid unnecessary fungicide applications.

The American Soybean Association applauded the decision, which helps protect the U.S. soybean crop valued at more than $30 billion and saves soybean producers millions of dollars annually.

"ASA is pleased that USDA will be providing over $750,000 in funding for the soybean rust sentinel plot and diagnostic network in FY09," said ASA Chairman John Hoffman, a soybean producer from Waterloo, Iowa. "These USDA funds will be leveraged with approximately $500,000 in federal and state checkoff investments and available state funding to maintain a scaled-down soybean rust sentinel plot and diagnostic network."

Soybean rust was first discovered in the U.S. in 2005, and has spread each year to key soybean producing regions. USDA's Economic Research Service has found that rust management due to PIPE saved farmers an estimated $299 million in 2005. Surveys conducted by land grant universities estimate a $299 million savings in 2006 and another $209 million in 2007. PIPE is administered by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Services.

ASA continues to push for continued funding.

"While ASA is pleased that USDA will be providing this funding to allow for a continuation of the sentinel plot system and diagnostic network in 2009, ASA believes that an increased funding amount should be made part of USDA's regular budget for FY2010 and subsequent years," Hoffman said. "The threat and reality of soybean rust is not going to go away, so we need a long-term funding pipeline for this important program."

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