Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples announced the Texas Department of Agriculture has been awarded $772,301 in funding from USDA to monitor entry of plant pests at strategic checkpoints and conduct reviews of Texas’ plant pest detection and response activities.

“It is essential we protect our $106 billion Texas agriculture industry from dangerous plant pests and diseases,” Commissioner Staples said. “These critical biosecurity funds will assist us in our goal of enhancing early plant pest detection and surveillance, threat identification and safeguarding our nursery industry.”

TDA will use the funds to conduct roadside and market inspections. Inspectors will search for quarantined products that are infested with pests or carrying dangerous diseases. TDA was awarded $107,479 to enhance plant pest and disease exclusion, detection and response activities. The agency received an additional $664,822 to survey critical Texas entry points for pests along known-risk pathways.

“We are pleased to see these funds coming to the Texas Department of Agriculture,” said Ray Prewett, Texas Citrus Mutual vice president. “TDA’s road station inspection program has been very beneficial to the citrus industry, and enhancing the program will protect agriculture production in the Lone Star State.”

USDA has allocated $45 million from the 2008 Farm Bill for building and preserving critical plant health initiatives this year. Funding is being provided to state departments of agriculture, universities, nonprofit organizations and USDA agencies.

For more information on the USDA pest, disease, management and disaster prevention funds, please visit TDA’s Web site.