NRSP005: National Program for Controlling Virus Diseases of Temperate Fruit Tree Crops
Statement of Issues and Justification
Prerequisite Criteria: MissionMission statement: NRSP5 is a national program committed to minimize the adverse effects of viruses in orchards of the United States by providing virus-free propagation material of important temperate tree fruit varieties from domestic and foreign sources through traditional and innovative methods of virus testing and therapy, and by forging collaborative relationships with government agencies, universities and industry to help maintain U.S. agricultural productivity, market competitiveness, balance of trade, and a diverse, wholesome and affordable food supply.
Statement of Issue and Justification: Virus and virus-like agents of stone and pome fruit crops induce substantial economic loss to American consumers and to all sectors of the tree fruit industry (Attachment I Section I). Virus diseases directly impact grower efficiencies and economic viability, and indirectly affect family and community stability, balance of trade, and the supply of nutritious and diverse food supplied for consumers. Viruses like Plum pox virus cause severe diseases and have enormous economic and social impacts. More than 40 million dollars (D. Albright, USDA National PPV office, Carlisle, PA) have been spent by state and federal agencies to combat this virus since its arrival in the USA in 1999 (enough to fund NRSP5 at its current level for 160 years). Other insidious viruses like Prunus necrotic ringspot virus induce mild but sustained and significant losses over the life of the orchard that reduce or eliminate the sustainability of many orchard operations. The deleterious effects of most fruit tree viruses throughout the country are averted by clean stock programs dependent on NRSP5 and based on a cooperative effort between NRSP5, Land Grant Universities, state governments, and industry (Attachment I-Section II). The key role of NRSP5 in these relationships is reflected in the review document emerging from the external review of NRSP5 held in December 2002 (Attachment V-Section II).
For the U.S. tree fruit industry to remain competitive, virus containment strategies must not only be effective, they must also be efficient. During the first 30 years in the operation of this program, the variety situation in the industry was stable. In response to consumer demands and global opportunities and competition, growers of tree fruit are now in need of many new and diverse varieties, and they need them available quickly. Fruit and tree production from a new variety is most profitable during the first few years of its introduction. Through applied and basic research conducted at NRSP5, improved pathogen detection methods have reduced the times to clear new varieties from 10 years at the inception of the program to a little over one year at the present time. Continued reduction in residency in the program is needed.
Globalization of the tree fruit industry is a reality. NRSP5 is the vehicle through which new varieties from throughout the world are acquired and shared. Because of virus testing and therapy expertise located with NRSP5, the program evolved into the premier center (worldwide) for the international movement of new varieties. This makes the new varieties from breeding programs throughout the world readily available to our growers and nurserymen. Importation must be done safely to prevent introduction of exotic pests, but it must be rapid so supplies from other countries do not erode the domestic market. The most successful of the new generation of apple varieties originated in Japan (Fuji), New Zealand (Gala and Braeburn), and Australia (Pink Lady(r) brand (Cripps Pink variety)) and were imported through NRSP5's quarantine testing program. As Mr. Wallace Heuser, International Plant Management, Lawrence, MI, commented to the NRSP5 advisory committee in August, 2002, "Without NRSP5 I don't know where we'd be. I guess we'd be on the outside looking in."
Facilities to eliminate viruses from pome and stone fruit clones are limited. Although there are few places that can effectively screen new fruit tree varieties for a broad range of virus and virus like diseases, there are even fewer that can render infected clones free of virus contamination. Without this efficient service of therapy, apple varieties such as 'Fuji', 'Pink Lady(r) brand (Cripps Pink variety)' and many others would only be available as virus-infected clones. Production by our growers would suffer as a result. NRSP5 is the only site that provides this service in the United States, and there are only two or three other centers in the world where this work is effectively accomplished on a large scale (Attachment II). Land grant Universities and State Certification Programs require external assistance. NRSP5 performs virus-sensitivity testing for new rootstocks being developed by breeding programs to reduce potentially harmful virus interactions after new rootstocks are released. NRSP5 provides economical virus-tested material for research projects. At one time, this was provided directly to university programs, but now those programs access most of this material indirectly through certified nurseries. NRSP5 provides diagnostic assistance to scientists and extension agents in response to disease symptoms in research plots and orchards. Several state regulatory agencies rely on NRSP5 to conduct virus assays and to retain varieties for their programs. It would be extremely expensive for each state to maintain similar expertise and services (Attachment II).
Stable funding is necessary to maintain collections of virus-free perennial clones and program integrity. Multistate research funds that are "off-the-top-funds" contributed by regional associations of State Agricultural Experiment Stations Directors and administered under guidance from USDA-CSREES provide approximately one-half of the almost $500,000 operating budget of NRSP5. One-quarter of necessary funding is in-kind contributions by Washington State University, and the remainder is service fees and grower commission grants. Even this four-pronged approach to funding is failing to keep pace with the costs of personnel retention, new technologies, and maintenance. New funding is needed to offset these costs and to replace or supplement current CSREES support. Industry is one possible source of additional funding. However, as costs for virus testing increase, the likelihood of certain members of industry by-passing such testing increases. That, in turn, increases the risk of virus outbreaks that will destabilize our fruit production areas. Funding considerations for NRSP5 must incorporate three important factors: 1) Expertise, facilities and equipment must be adequate. 2) The testing program must be construed as being non-biased with no direct vested interest in the testing results. Government funding provides this separation and helps maintain credibility with international and state government partners. 3) Program activities should be centralized for reasons of efficiency; no one state could afford to operate this program alone.
Prerequisite Criteria: How does this NRSP pertain as a national issue?
Rationale: Priority Established by ESCOP/ESS
Rationale: Relevance to stakeholders
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