By itself, it would have been great news when USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recently announced the absence of golden nematode in the townships of Elba and Byron in Genesee County, New York, and removed these areas from regulation. APHIS and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets have been working together since 1944 on an aggressive survey, quarantine, and control program to combat one of the world’s most damaging potato pests from the State. The success in these townships demonstrates the effectiveness and importance of these continuing cooperative efforts.
But there’s even better news in store for New York’s potato growers and other producers. The deregulated areas—about 68 square miles—are just the beginning of a process that will free many more farmers from the regulatory requirements for this pest. APHIS now has the science-based methods and criteria it needs to safely remove—over the next 3 years—up to 90 percent of the land currently under regulation for golden nematode in New York.
As a result, potato farmers and other growers in deregulated areas will no longer be required to steam clean their equipment prior to leaving their fields to remove soil that may carry the pest. In addition, potatoes and other commodities will no longer need to be inspected and certified for interstate movement. This will directly reduce production costs, freeing those resources for other priorities. Removal of the restrictions will also open up additional opportunities for exports of these commodities.
APHIS’ new tool in this effort is an agreement that USDA signed with Canada in June 2009 called the “Guidelines on Surveillance and Phytosanitary Actions for Potato Cyst Nematodes.” It’s the result of years of research, and it establishes science-based survey methods and criteria for determining that an area is free of this pest. Using these guidelines, APHIS can deregulate most of the currently regulated areas in New York, leaving just the infested fields and fields immediately adjacent under regulation. Then APHIS and its State partners will turn their full attention to those fields.
To learn more about the specific changes to the quarantine areas, please visit APHIS’s website.