Soybean Growers Ask USDA for Help Funding Soybean Rust Monitoring

The early warning and monitoring system has saved farmers millions.

Soybean rust continues to pop up in new locations and the Integrated Pest Management Pest Information Platform for Extension and Education (ipmPIPE) tracking system is helping farmers monitor the spread of the disease. The system includes a surveillance network, a Web-based information management system, criteria for deciding when to apply fungicides, predictive modeling, and outreach.

USDA's Risk Management Agency has provided more than $2 million in funding for this program in each of the last three years. However, funding has not been designated for the 2009 crop year. The American Soybean Association is asking USDA for assistance in funding the system.

"Without funding for the ipmPIPE system, the U.S. soybean crop, with an estimated farm-gate value of $37 billion, will be put at risk," says ASA President John Hoffman. "We regret that the broken Congressional appropriations process leaves us with no option but to seek USDA funding for this critical program. 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."

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. USDA's Economic Research Service has found that rust management due to ipmPIPE 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.

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