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USDA grants $400K to upgrade Cornell's nematode research facilities

In a visit to the Nematode Quarantine laboratory at Cornell University last Friday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, announced a commitment of $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

This critical federal investment will enable the laboratory to support vital upgrades to facilities and equipment. Located in Ithaca, New York, the laboratory is used by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists to control the potential devastation of the Golden Nematode and Pale Cyst Nematode to the potato industry in New York and nationwide. Schumer said the research done at the lab helps to protect New York State’s $65 million dollar potato industry.

Schumer added that the potato industry is vital to New York State’s economy and that this federal investment will build on its decades-long investment in nematode control with additional funding to replace outdated equipment and upgrade the facilities at Cornell. 

Chuck Schumer: “The Nematode Quarantine Facility is the main line of defense between New York potato farmers and the potentially catastrophic spread of nematodes.”

“I am pleased the USDA heeded my calls for funding; this federal investment will enable the facility to purchase new state-of-the art equipment to continue their important work.”

“The potato industry is a major component of both the Upstate New York economy and the nation’s food supply. Without the cutting edge work done at the Quarantine Facility, the nematode threat could become unmanageable and could threaten the health of this critical crop nationwide.”

“Simply put, this new modern equipment will protect New York farmers from this dangerous threat.”

Recently, Schumer was able to secure a verbal commitment from USDA to provide this critical federal funding for a new growth chamber, which includes plans to update equipment and blueprints to create the new facility at Cornell. 

Schumer said, this federal funding for new equipment will greatly improve the facility’s ability to protect the potato industry by building on more than six decades of a successful golden nematode research. 

Emerging nematode challenges, such as the soybean cyst, will also benefit from having a biosafe area for ARS and Cornell scientists to conduct research and control work. Soybean cysts infect the crop’s roots causing damage to the stems, leaves and hampering growth, threatening a growers yield and return. 

Schumer said the potato industry is a crucial sector of the Upstate New York economy, with over 20,000 acres of cropland and production valued at more than $65 million across 1,207 farms in the state. Schumer explained that nematodes pose a growing threat to the potato industry and that if the golden nematode becomes established nationwide, it could cripple the entire potato industry. 

Therefore, Schumer said this vital funding will allow the Federal Nematode Quarantine Facility at Cornell to build on its success and achieve its core mission of conducting scientific research on behalf of farmers and consumers. Today’s announcement, comes on the heels of Schumer’s June 2017 push to secure funding for equipment upgrades. 

New York State recently approved $1.2 million for the construction of the new Nematode Quarantine Facility. Schumer explained that this laboratory helps farmers prepare for new risks to their crops while also helping to increase the production of high quality potatoes on a yearly basis.

Schumer said this federal investment coupled with New York State’s investment will directly help Cornell buy new equipment and make the necessary upgrades in order to meet the challenges posed by emerging and potentially devastating threats to crops. 


Publication date: 9/7/2017


 


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