Department of Agriculture & Markets

    

Jessica Ziehm, 518-457-3136
jessica.ziehm@agriculture.ny.gov

February 09, 2012

USDA Answers NY’s Pleas to Increase Plum Pox Compensation

Commissioner Aubertine Applauds USDA for Updating & Increasing
Compensation Rates for the Removal of Plum Pox Virus Infected Trees

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine today applauded USDA for responding to New York farmers this week by publishing updated compensation rates for orchards and nurseries infested with the stone fruit disease, Plum Pox Virus (PPV).  While the rates went into effect immediately, USDA is seeking comments on the new rates and New York growers are encouraged to voice their opinion of the increased compensation.

“I commend USDA for hearing our pleas for a higher, more adequate compensation rate for growers with trees impacted by Plum Pox Virus,” the Commissioner said.  “Support from growers is key in eradicating this potentially economically devastating disease, and these increases will ensure continued cooperation from the stone fruit industry as we work to protect their crop from Plum Pox Virus in New York State.”

Orchard and nursery growers of PPV impacted species are compensated for their loss through an 85-15 federal-state cost share program.  The newly proposed compensation rates are the rates proposed by a team of New York growers, coordinated by Gerald White, a Professor Emeritus in Agricultural Economics at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.  These rates more accurately reflect the loss a grower incurs when they are required to remove their trees in an effort to eradicate PPV from the State. An example of the new rate is that an acre of three-year old trees in a wholesale orchard will increase from $9,429/acre to $12,737/acre. 

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, along with peach and stone fruit growers and nursery growers in New York have been advocating to USDA to increase the compensation paid to growers who are forced to remove PPV infected trees.  New York growers have been at a greater disadvantage with compensation for PPV as they plant their orchards at higher densities, and thus more trees are impacted by the mandatory quarantine and removal when PPV is detected.  In addition, the value of New York peach, plum, nectarine and apricot crops has nearly doubled since USDA originally set compensation rates back in 2000, and therefore, they have not been fully compensated for the loss they incur from the required removals. 

While the Interim Rule for PPV compensation rates went into effect immediately, February 3, 2012, USDA is seeking comments on the rates.  New York growers are encouraged to comment on the increased compensation rates.  Comments will be accepted through April 3, 2012 through either the Federal eRulemaking Portal or via mail, in which comments can be sent to:  Docket No. APHIS–2011–0004, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238.

New York has been working to eradicate Plum Pox Virus since 2006, and is the only remaining U.S. location with the disease.  While PPV does not pose any human health risks, the virus reduces the quantity and quality of susceptible species of stone fruit, including peaches, nectarines, cherries, plums and apricots.  The only method of eradication is to remove the infested plant material. 

            There are 1,600 acres devoted to peach production in New York, ranking the state 15th in the nation.  In 2010, New York growers produced 11.8 million pounds of peaches that were valued at $7.0 million.  Most of the State’s stone fruit production is around Lake Ontario, with fresh market fruit produced in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island.

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