USDA is offering $75 million in funding for the eradication and control of feral swine through the Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP) in a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
In the 2018 Farm Bill, $75 million was designated to establish a “feral swine eradication and control pilot program” over the next five years to help landowners with trapping and to use modern technology to control feral hogs. The $75 million will be a 50-50 split between NRCS (for on-farm trapping and technology related to capturing and confining feral swine) and APHIS (for operational removal of feral swine).
“Our intent is to work on joint projects together – we are laying framework now for what those projects will consist of and identifying areas where feral swine populations are high,” said Dale Nolte, program manager for the USDA APHIS National Feral Swine Damage Management Program. “Our focus will be to reduce agricultural damage from feral swine.”
NRCS plans to direct up to $33.75 million of the allocated FSCP funds toward partnership efforts to work with landowners in identified pilot projects in targeted areas. Applications are being accepted now through Aug. 19 for partners to carry out activities as part of these pilot projects in select areas of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas that have been determined to have the highest feral swine population densities and associated damages in the country.
Pilot projects will consist broadly of three coordinated components: 1) feral swine removal by APHIS; 2) restoration efforts supported by NRCS; and 3) assistance to producers for feral swine control provided through partnership agreements with non-federal partners. Projects will last from one to three years.
“The projects selected for funding will allow APHIS and NRCS to collectively reduce the damage and disease caused by one of the most destructive and formidable invasive species in the United States,” said APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea. “Overall, this pilot program builds upon and expands work already underway by APHIS’ National Feral Swine Damage Management Program to both manage feral swine and eliminate populations in partnership with local government, the private sector, industry and academia.”
NRCS is accepting proposals from non-federal partners to provide landowner assistance for on-farm trapping and related services as part of the pilot projects described above. NRCS will provide funding for these services through partnership agreements. The funding limit for a single award is $1.5 million. Awardees will be required to provide at least 25% of the partnership agreement budget as a match to NRCS funding.
David Herring, president of the National Pork Producers Council and a pork producer from Lillington, N.C., issued a statement thanking USDA for implementing this important Farm Bill program to reduce feral swine populations.
"Wild pigs are difficult to control and when in close proximity to domestic production, they are almost impossible to control. Most seriously, we are concerned about the spread of feral swine carrying diseases, including African swine fever (ASF), an animal disease affecting only pigs and with no human health or food safety risks," Herring said. "While outbreaks of ASF continue throughout China and other parts of Asia, there are no reported cases in the United States. With no vaccination available, prevention is our only defense and that's why this program is so vitally important."
Additional information on the complete funding announcement and about specific pilot projects, including target areas and the roles for which partner assistance is being requested, can be found on the FSCP webpage. Applications must be submitted through Grants.gov by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on Aug. 19.
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