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Maloney Secures $325,000 Federal Investment to Help Combat Invasive Species of Pest Threatening Orange County Onion Farmers

Oct 18, 2018
Press Release

Newburgh, NY – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that he has secured a federal investment of $325,000 from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to assist researchers combatting the Allium leafminer, an invasive species of pest which threatens Orange County’s multimillion dollar onion industry. Rep. Maloney formally requested a federal investment through the Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) Program in April to support a research project led by Professors Dr. Brian Nault (Cornell University) and Dr. Shelby Fleischer (Penn State University).

“Hudson Valley farmers are having a tough growing season already – the weather has been crazy, commodity prices are down, and we’re looking down the barrel of a trade war – the last thing our farmers need is to take a hit from some invasive species,” said Rep. Maloney. “I’m proud to work alongside our local farmers and researchers to secure this important funding to protect their livelihoods and our local economy – this is exactly why I fought to protect funding for research in the 2018 Farm Bill – we’re going to see its impact right here in the Hudson Valley.”  

“Allium leafminer continues to spread across the Hudson Valley and it can be a devastating pest for onion, garlic and leek growers. Research on how to prevent its damage and slow down its spread is desperately needed and the USDA funding that Rep. Maloney helped us obtain will allow us to achieve that goal,” said Dr. Nault. “We have a great team of researchers and extension educators at Cornell and Penn State who will be working together on this 2-year project.”

The Allium leafminer is an invasive species of insect which destroys the foliage and lower portions of onions, leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and green onions. The first pests were discovered in Orange County in April of 2017. Local agriculture experts warn that the insect could inflict major damage on the Orange County onion crop, but more research is necessary to determine how growers can protect these crops from the pest. Orange County produces half of New York State’s onion crop, generates $25 million in annual sales, and employs hundreds of residents.

Dr. Nault and fellow Cornell Cooperative Extension educators Ethan Grundberg and Teresa Rusinek have partnered with researchers at Penn State University on a new project entitled “Solutions for managing Allium leafminer: a new invasive threat to Allium crops in North America.” The project aims to identify potential solutions to managing the leafminer in New York and surrounding states. The group of researchers applied for federal funding through NIFA’s CPPM program this Spring with Rep. Maloney’s support.

Last October, Rep. Maloney announced that he had secured a total of $130,000 in investments from the New York State Farm Viability Institute (NYFVI) and Federal Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) to combat the pest. Rep. Maloney met with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in May 2017 to secure his commitment to assisting Hudson Valley farmers in their fight on the leafminer and also joined local leaders to call for federal investments.

The CPPM program, administered through NIFA, supports projects that will increase food security and respond effectively to other major societal challenges with comprehensive integrated pest management (IPM) approaches that are economically viable, ecologically prudent, and safe for human health. The CPPM program addresses pest management challenges with new and emerging technologies and the outcomes support more vital communities.