U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) announced Tuesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has started issuing payments to reimburse durum growers for up to half of their fungicide costs to help combat scab in the 2010 crop.
Dorgan, a senior member of the Senate's Appropriations Committee, secured $3 million for the program in the fiscal year 2010 Agriculture Appropriations bill.
"Fungicide costs for American durum growers can hamper profitability," Dorgan said. "I'm very pleased to see that FSA is promptly getting checks in the hands of these producers. The program will bolster durum production in our state and ensure there's a steady supply of durum for domestic pasta plants."
Scab, technically known as Fusarium head blight, threatens to dramatically reduce durum production in North Dakota and around the nation. Durum is a high-protein wheat that is frequently used to make pasta in the U.S. and other parts of the world. While other wheat varieties now have successful scab resistant traits, achieving genetic resistance to scab in durum is not in the immediate future.
This program was authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, but was not funded until Dorgan took action in June 2009. Dorgan is a member of the Senate's Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. He's been a long-time advocate for America's family farmers.