DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Commercial Orchard and Fruit Tree Nursery Indemnity Program
[30 Pa.B. 48]
The Department of Agriculture (Department) hereby gives notice of the statutory procedures and requirements under which it will award grants under the Commercial Orchard and Fruit Tree Nursery Indemnity Program (Program). In summary, the Program is intended to provide commercial orchard owners and commercial fruit tree nursery owners financial relief from some of the costs associated with the outbreak of Plum Pox Virus (PPV) in this Commonwealth. This notice restates statutory authority and provides background information.
The Drought, Orchard and Nursery Indemnity and Flood Relief Act (P. L. __ , No. 57) (act) took effect on December 13, 1999. The act establishes the Program, describes the circumstances under which grants are to be awarded and appropriates $2 million to fund these grants.
PPV--a plant pest indigenous to Europe--is a serious plant pest that injures and damages stone fruits such as peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots by drastically reducing the fruit yields from these stone fruit trees and by disfiguring the fruit to the point it is unmarketable. PPV has been detected on stone fruit trees located in Latimore and Huntington Townships, in Adams County. PPV has the potential to cause serious damage to the stone fruit production and stone fruit nursery industries within this Commonwealth. PPV is transmitted from infected trees by aphids and by budding or grafting with PPV-infected plant material.
The Department has used its authority under the Plant Pest Act (3 P. S. §§ 258.1--258.27) to establish a quarantine with respect to the townships where PPV has been detected. The quarantine order was published at 29 Pa.B. 5735 (November 6, 1999), and may be revised in the future as the Department's effort to contain and eradicate this plant pest moves forward. The quarantine order prohibits the movement of stone fruit trees and stone fruit budwood within the quarantined area, and prohibits the movement of stone fruit trees and stone fruit budwood out of the quarantined area.
There is no known control for PPV other than the destruction of infected trees and the aphids that can carry the disease. The Program is intended to provide some financial relief to owners of commercial orchards and owners of commercial fruit tree nurseries who incur costs related to controlling this plant pest.
A person who owns a commercial orchard or a commercial fruit tree nursery is eligible to apply for a grant under the Program.
A person who wishes to apply for a grant under the Program may download an application form from the Department's website: www.pda.state.pa.us. The Department will also provide grant application forms upon request telephoned to the Department's Bureau of Plant Industry, at (717) 772-5203, or upon written request to the following address: Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, ATTN: Bureau of Plant Industry, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408.
An application for a grant under the Program will require the following information of an applicant:
1. The name and address of the applicant.
2. Verification that the applicant is the owner of a commercial orchard or a commercial fruit tree nursery.
3. A description of the location of the orchard or nursery.
4. A detailed description of the actions taken by the applicant with respect to PPV containment and eradication. These actions are limited to the following actions, when conducted with the prior written consent of the Department or the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Plant Protection and Quarantine (USDA-APHIS-PPQ):
i. Removal and destruction of trees and nursery stock.
ii. Herbicide applications.
iii. Vector control measures.
iv. Other activities necessary to eradicate PPV.
5. A detailed statement of the costs incurred in performing the PPV containment and eradication measures described in the application, including any bills received by the applicant with respect to the PPV containment and eradication measures.
6. If some portion of the grant amount sought is reimbursement for the destruction of commercial orchard trees or commercial nursery stock, a statement of the number of acres of trees and/or nursery stock destroyed.
7. A request for a specific grant amount.
8. A signature acknowledging that representations made in the application are true, and further acknowledging that the criminal punishments and penalties of 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4904 (relating to unsworn falsification to authorities) apply to any false statement made in the application.
An applicant shall submit a complete application form to the Department at the mailing address set forth earlier in this section.
Review of Applications
The Department will review and approve or disapprove any complete, timely grant application within 30 days of receipt. The Department will stamp or otherwise identify each grant application to record the date and the order in which these applications are received. The Department will consider reimbursement grant applications in the order they are received. The Department will approve a grant application if all of the following criteria are met:
1. The application meets the requirements of the act.
2. The PPV containment and eradication efforts for which a reimbursement grant is sought were undertaken in an area that was either subject to a PPV quarantine issued by the Department under the Plant Pest Act or made subject to such a quarantine order after the containment and eradication efforts were undertaken.
3. There are sufficient unencumbered funds available from the $2 million appropriation contained in the act to fund the grant amount sought in the reimbursement grant application.
Limitation on Grants
Where the grant application seeks reimbursement for destruction of commercial orchard trees or commercial nursery stock, the grant amount with respect to that portion of the grant application shall not exceed $1,000 per acre.
Notice of Decision
The Department will, within 10 days of completing its review, mail a reimbursement grant applicant written notice as to whether the reimbursement grant application is approved. If the application is not approved, the written notice will specify the basis for disapproval.
Expiration of Appropriation
Any portion of the $2 million allocation funding the Program that is not used by June 30, 2001, shall lapse into the General Fund. If a grant application is not approved by the Department by that date, it shall be disapproved on the basis that funding has lapsed.
No Right or Entitlement to Funds
The appropriation of funds under the act does not create in any person a right or entitlement to a grant from these funds. Departmental approval of a grant application is the event that establishes entitlement of the applicant to the grant funds sought, provided allocated funds are available in an amount adequate to fund the grant.
Further information may be obtained by contacting the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Attn: Lyle B. Forer, Director, Bureau of Plant Industry, 2301 North Cameron Street, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9408. (717) 772-5203.
SAMUEL E. HAYES, Jr.,
[Pa.B. Doc. No. 00-17. Filed for public inspection December 30, 2000, 9:00 a.m.]
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