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State Dept. of Agriculture awards $100K in grants to study phorid fly control

11/29/2016 11:20AM ● Published by Richard Gaw

By Richard L. Gaw
Staff Writer

For thousands of southern Chester County residents who are combating the rise of the phorid fly, and the local mushroom industry who is at its wit's end in much of the same, help may be finally on the way.
State Senator Andy Dinniman recently announced that the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recently approved $100,000 in research grant funding to study ways to control and combat the Phorid fly infestation that has wreaked havoc on mushroom farms and residential communities in southern Chester County.
“These flies continue to be a serious issue for both residents and farmers in Chester County and I am committed to finding a solution,” Dinniman, who serves on the Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said. “This grant funding is a step forward in working to find new ways to effectively control and combat these pests.”
The funding will go to the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences to study the ecology and control of Phorid fly infestations on mushroom farms and surrounding communities.
The grant funding was the result of a meeting Dinniman held earlier this year with residents of Harrogate North, leaders of other communities impacted by the flies, and experts from Penn State and American Mushroom Institute’s (AMI) Integrated Pest Management Committee.
Dinniman has led the effort to address the infestation of tiny insects that have plagued dozens of homeowners and residents in New Garden Township and nearby areas. Earlier this month, he held a town hall meeting with local residents and mushroom farmers and composters to discuss and coordinate ongoing efforts to address the problem.
“This is an issue that negatively impacts both the quality of life of local residents and the crop yields of neighboring mushroom farmers,” he said. “There has got to be a way we can work together to eliminate this fly for the betterment of the entire community.”
In addition, the Department of Agriculture also approved $77,000 in research grant funding for the AMI to study the beneficial uses of mushroom compost.
These two grants were part of nine projects statewide approved for more than $600,000 in total funding to improve the Pennsylvania agricultural industry’s understanding of pressing challenges and promising opportunities. Proposals were evaluated and scored on a number of factors, including the strength of its needs statement, the potential impact of outcomes, methodology, evaluation and replicability, and industry support and participation.
In addition, the American Mushroom Institute will receive $50,000 in federal funding to bring the Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices (MGAP) program into compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Rule and standard benchmarked under the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI-) recognized auditing programs.
That grant funding comes through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill. Grant recipients are selected by the Pennsylvania Specialty Crop Advisory Board, approved by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture, and then approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.

To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@chestercounty.com.



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