GOSHEN – Surrounded by a bipartisan coalition of state and local lawmakers, farmers, and researchers, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that he has secured two investments of $65,000 each to fund research to combat the Allium Leafminer.
Rep Maloney secured $65,000 from the New York Farm Viability Institute’s (NYFVI) Focus Grant Program, and another $65,000 from the federal Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research’s (FFAR) Rapid Outcomes for Agriculture Research Program to allow Cornell University Researcher Dr. Brian Nault to develop strategies to destroy the pest.
“If a swarm of these things descends on Orange County we are in big trouble – and I don’t just mean our farmers – a hit like that to the farming economy would have ripple effects that would hurt all kinds of businesses around here,” said Rep. Maloney, a member of the House Committee on Agriculture. “This funding is a down payment on the first step of research, and our bipartisan team from all levels of government, the farm sector, and Cornell will keep on this until we have a surefire way to stop the Allium Leafminer.”
“I want to thank Congressman Maloney for securing this funding,” said Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus. “Orange County’s agricultural sector is important to our economy and is an integral part of our history. This bug could be devastating for farmers and this funding will help protect our farms, which are vital resources to the County.”
“I would like to thank Congressman Maloney for his letters of support that helped leverage funding from both the New York Farm Viability Institute and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research that will be used for identifying immediate solutions for managing Allium leafminer,” said Dr. Brian Nault, Professor in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and lead Allium Leafminer Researcher. “The funding will be used to conduct research that will enable us to better predict when and where Allium leafminer will occur in Allium crop fields, to identify practical and economical solutions for managing it in these crops, and to inform growers how to implement these management tactics on their farms.”
“Congressman Maloney supports public funding for agricultural research which keeps our Land Grant universities relevant and the Cooperative Extension system nimble to address current needs, in this case, the invasive allium leafminer,” said Lucy Joyce, Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orange County. “The impact of this funding is critically important to our local agricultural economy. In 2017, Alliums are worth almost $40 million in the lower Hudson Valley of which onions comprised $36 million while leek, shallot, chives, scallions, and garlic crops are valued at $4 million.”
Rep. Maloney met with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in May to secure his commitment to assist in efforts to stop the Allium Leafminer. Maloney also joined local leaders to call for federal investments in June and wrote letters of support to leverage funding from the NYFVI and FFAR.
The federal Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a federal 501(c)3 created by the 2014 Farm Bill, builds public-private partnerships to innovate science that addresses today’s food and agriculture challenges. Rep. Maloney supported the 2014 Farm Bill, which created the organization and provided $200 million in federal funds, but required a non-federal match to be activated. The New York Farm Viability Institute is a grant making organization, led by volunteer farmers, funded primarily by New York State and committed to helping New York’s farmers become more profitable as well as improving the long-term economic viability and sustainability of New York’s farms, the food system, and the communities they serve.
The Allium Leafminer is an invasive species of insect which destroys the foliage and stems of onions, leeks, garlic, chives, shallots, and green onions. The first pests were discovered in Orange County in mid-April. Local agriculture experts warn that the insect could inflict damage on the Orange County onion crop, but have limited information on the extent of the potential damage or how to stop it. Orange County produces half of New York State’s onion crop. The industry in Orange County alone generates $25 million in annual sales and employs hundreds of residents.