Universities in six states are recipients of federal funding to conduct research on measures to combat harmful pests and diseases, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced. The USDA will award $974,000 this year for studies to examine the economic effects and efficiency of strategies to prevent, control, or eradicate invasive pests.

The agreements will provide funding to universities in Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Nevada. These research projects are competitively awarded by the Program of Research on the Economics of Invasive Species Management (PREISM), administered by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS).

Among the subjects the projects will examine are:

– economic tradeoffs of strategies for managing white pine blister rust in high-altitude pine forests used for recreation;

– contractual arrangements that encourage ranchers to manage wildfire-inducing weeds in the Great Basin, tradeoffs between preemptive and restorative weed management, and gains from coordinating weed and wildfire risk management resources across multiple agencies and private entities;

– decision support for analyzing risk of potentially invasive, imported ornamental plants, considering economic effects and characteristics of successful invaders;

– the potential for alternative mechanisms, such as marketable invasion permits and performance bonds, to encourage grower use of integrated pest management;

– the effect of phytosanitary policies, such as pre-clearance, pre-treatment, and World Trade Organization notifications, on pest risks in agricultural produce imports and the implications for allocation of surveillance resources;

– structural characteristics of a robust, economically efficient surveillance network for early discovery of emerging animal diseases.

PREISM studies will provide analytically based principles, guidelines, and criteria for invasive species policy and program decision making, as well as the economic information, modeling systems, or other tools that support the decision making.

2008 PREISM Competitive Awards

Arizona State University, Tempe, $125,000 - The researchers will compare mechanisms, such as Pigouvian taxes, marketable invasion permits, and performance bonds, that could encourage growers to use integrated pest management to combat a potential pest invasion, focusing on the pesticide-resistant whitefly on Arizona cotton. They will estimate relationships between infestations, crop yield and quality, and control costs to achieve a pest population level below acceptable injury levels.