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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) added $300,000 to a Senate spending bill for the clean plant program located at Washington State University (WSU) in Prosser. The funding for the clean plant program was included the Senate Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations bill. Senator Murray is a member of the Appropriations Committee.  

The Clean Plant program, formerly known as the National Research Support Project 5, is located on WSU's Prosser campus. WSU Prosser is a licensed Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) facility, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA).  This funding will ensure that that facility’s doors stay open as it transitions into the National Clean Plant Network, which will ensure that nurseries can continue to provide safe, virus-free plant materials to orchards, vineyards and other growers. Plant materials such as apples, peaches and grapes are particularly vulnerable to viruses.  A single plant or grape vine has the potential to infect an established orchard or vineyard. 

"In Washington state, our vineyards and orchards are the economic backbone of many communities," said Senator Murray. "This funding will go to a facility that is committed to providing growers with certified healthy plant materials. It will help protect our farmers from viruses that can decimate crops and sink local economies."

"We sincerely value Senator Murray’s effort and commitment for establishing a national clean plant network," said Bill Howell, Executive Director of the Northwest Nursery Improvement Institute, a partner with WSU in the project. "This network is vital to the long term health of our vineyards and orchards and to keep our wine and tree fruit industries competitive in the global market.  The Senator certainly provided great leadership for securing government support for this important project."

Senator Murray is working to authorize the National Clean Plant Network, and has included language in S. 1160, the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act.  The National Clean Plant Network will provide important services to our farmers and will help ensure that they stay competitive in a global marketplace. It is estimated that being proactive on plant infestation is very cost-effective. Studies have shown that continued research to improve detection and eradiation of viruses is significantly less than the potential tens of millions it would cost to eradiate an established virus.