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Golden Nematode And Pale Cyst Nematode Invasive Species Are Threatening The Long-Term Viability Of New York State’s $65 Million Potato Industry; Outdated Equipment Makes It Difficult To Conduct Pest Prevention Research, and Lab Equipment Desperately Needs Upgrades

Without Improvements  To Lab To Better Guard Against Invasive Species, Potato Farmers Could See Their Crops Diminished Or Destroyed In The Near Future – Schumer Calls on USDA To Prioritize The Replacement of Equipment and Upgrades to Facilities, Which Are Critical to Farmers & Industry 

Schumer To USDA: Replace Cornell’s Fried Nematode Equipment


U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prioritize and support critical upgrades to facilities and equipment at the Nematode Quarantine Laboratory. The Nematode Quarantine Laboratory is located at Cornell University in Ithaca New York and it is used by ARS scientists to control the potential devastation of the Golden Nematode and Pale Cyst Nematode to the potato industry. The potato industry is critical to New York State’s economy, therefore Schumer said it is critical that the federal government build on its decades-long investment in nematode control with additional funding to replace outdated equipment and upgrade the facilities at Cornell.

“The Nematode Quarantine Facility is the main line of defense between New York potato farmers and the potentially catastrophic spread of nematodes, but the current facility is not state-of-the art and its equipment is outdated. That’s why I am urging USDA to prioritize efforts to replace and modernize equipment at the lab at Cornell,” said Senator Schumer. “The potato industry is a major component of both the Upstate New York economy and the nation’s food supply. Without the cutting edge work done at the Quarantine Facility, the nematode threat could become unmanageable and destroy this critical economic sector. Simply put, the USDA should replace this equipment as soon as possible in order to protect New York farmers from this critical threat.”

Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences said, “For nearly 70 years, Cornell has partnered with the USDA’s  Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets to conduct research to prevent the spread of the golden nematode to uninfested areas.  A timely USDA investment in new equipment in a newly renovated Nematode Quarantine Laboratory on Cornell’s campus will ensure our collective ability to protect US agriculture from this devastating pest.”

Schumer explained that the Nematode Quarantine Facility helps farmers prepare for new risks to their crops while also helping to increase the production of high quality potatoes on a yearly basis. Schumer said it is imperative that ARS match State funds designated for renovation with additional dollars for new equipment and upgrades in order to meet the challenges posed by emerging and potentially devastating threats to crops.  

Schumer called on the USDA to honor a verbal commitment to provide funds for a new growth chamber and other updated equipment as plans to design the new facility at Cornell get underway. Federal funding for new equipment will greatly improve the facility’s usefulness and build on more than six decades of a successful golden nematode research. Emerging nematode challenges, such as the soybean cyst, will also benefit from having a biosafe area for ARS and Cornell scientists to conduct research and control work.   

Schumer said the potato industry is a crucial sector of the New York economy, with over 20,000 acres of cropland and production valued at more than $65 million across 1,207 farms in the state. Schumer explained that nematodes pose a growing threat to the potato industry and that if the golden nematode becomes established nationwide, it could cripple the entire potato industry. Therefore, Schumer said it is vital that funds be designated so that the Federal Nematode Quarantine Facility at Cornell can achieve its mission and meet its responsibilities for conducting scientific research on behalf of farmers and consumers.

A copy of Senator Schumer’s letter appears below:


Dear Administrator Jacobs-Young:

I write to encourage the Agriculture Research Service to support upgrades to facilities and equipment in the Nematode Quarantine Laboratory used by ARS scientists co-located at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Design work will begin shortly on plans to renovate this lab, which plays a major role in helping New York farmers mitigate risk and increase production of high quality potatoes every year. 

As you know, The Nematode Quarantine Facility at Cornell University, has been an important tool in preventing the spread of Golden Nematodes beyond New York for more than 60 years. Breeding, testing, and certification of nematode-resistant seed potatoes have kept our growers, who would otherwise face quarantine, in business for generations. The work at this unique facility has allowed the New York potato industry to flourish, with more than 1,200 farms producing more than $65 million of potatoes on 20,000 acres of cropland statewide.  Additionally, this facility has played a crucial role in helping to prevent the spread of this devastating pest beyond a small area, protecting the potato industry not only in New York, but nationwide.  

I have been informed that you have discussed ways to provide federal funds for a new growth chamber and other updated equipment to leverage New York State’s investment in a renovation of the lab. New equipment will greatly improve the facility’s usefulness and its ability to maintain more than six decades of a successful golden nematode quarantine. Emerging nematode challenges, such as the soybean cyst, will also benefit from having a biosafe area for ARS and Cornell scientists to conduct research and control work.   

I understand that in the current fiscal climate budgets are constrained.  However, based on the critical importance of the work at the Nematode Quarantine Facility at Cornell, I ask that you commit to provide the necessary funds to support upgrades to the equipment at this facility as soon as possible.  I look forward to working with you on this important request. 


Charles E. Schumer                                                                                           

United States Senator