Schrader Announces $5.8 Million USDA Grant for Oregon State University to Research Spotted Wing Drosophila

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Washington, DC, April 29, 2010 | comments
Today Congressman Kurt Schrader announced that Oregon State University will receive a $5.8 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to research the Spotted Wing Drosophila. The grant was made available through USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Initiative.
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Today Congressman Kurt Schrader announced that Oregon State University will receive a $5.8 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to research the Spotted Wing Drosophila. The grant was made available through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Initiative.

“This grant will allow Oregon State University to create an integrated Pest Management Program for the Spotted Wing Drosophila,” said Schrader. “Our farmers need help combating the insect infestations that threaten our crops daily. The livelihoods of thousands of Oregonians are directly tied to our fruit crop industry and we cannot let this epidemic continue.”

“The specialty crops industry is a significant part of the economy of Oregon, California, and Washington, which is being threatened by a new, invasive species, the spotted wing Drosophila,” said OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences Dean, Sonny Ramaswamy. “Without the grant support afforded by the Specialty Crops Research Initiative created by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill, scientists' efforts to mitigate this insect in a coordinated, collaborative and effective manner will not be possible.”

The Spotted Wing Drosophila is a new invasive fruit fly that is devastating fruit crops throughout the West Coast. The larvae infest ripe and ripening fruits, later hatching to begin feeding which causes the entire fruit to disintegrate. 

In Oregon, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry harvests yield more than $100 million annually. The state’s cherry crop is valued to at $55 million while, peaches, pears, plums, and prunes are valued to be worth more than $25 million.

In March, Schrader spearheaded a letter signed by Oregon’s Congressional delegation urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support OSU’s grant application. In the letter Schrader states that the funding is “vital to the continued livelihood of many Oregon farmers” and is essential to “protect Oregon’s agriculture industry.”

The grant will allow Oregon State University to create a Pest Management program that will create a socially and environmentally sound long-term pest management system to address crop infestations. Researchers will then be able to document data on the fly’s biology, movement, fruit preference, and seasonal phenology so that they can incorporate the data into farmer outreach and management strategies.

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