ANLA Board Member Robert Lyons Testifies on USDA Research

ANLA Board member and past Horticultural Research Institute president Bob Lyons, owner of Sunleaf Nursery, Madison, Ohio, represented the industry at a USDA specialty crop listening session held October 20 and 21 in Washington, D.C. Lyons’ statement described how the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Floriculture and Nursery Research Initiative (FNRI) partnership with ANLA, HRI and the Society of American Florists has established a model for research collaboration between government, industry and university researchers. “The nursery and greenhouse industry-ARS partnership is excellent and productive,” said Lyons. “We do think this Initiative represents a model for the future … ARS must determine how to back the success and promise of this Initiative by including it in the Administration’s annual budget request to Congress” he added. The FNRI has funded cutting-edge research on mechanization, environmental management, and the containment and control of serious quarantine pest threats.

The FNRI is currently funded at the level of $6 million, but because funding has been provided only through congressional earmarks, retaining and expanding the base funding requires substantial lobbying efforts each year by ANLA and SAF. Given the growing importance of nursery and greenhouse production as a sector of American agriculture, Lyons urged that funding should be made part of the Administration’s base funding request to Congress each year.

In separate testimony, Wanda Gale of International Plant Management spoke on the need for funding to establish a “clean plant network” which would build on existing infrastructure to ensure access to pathogen-tested propagative material for high-pest-risk fruit producing and ornamental plant genera like Malus, Prunus and Vitis.

Finally, ANLA labor consultant Dr. James Holt provided testimony to a separate panel on the emerging labor crisis in labor-intensive agriculture, and policies that USDA should consider to help support a resolution of the crisis. Lyons’, Gale’s and Holt’s testimony were presented at a listening session of the Specialty Crop Committee, on which ANLA serves. The Committee advises the Secretary of Agriculture on matters of importance to the industry.

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