The National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) - Farm Bill

The National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) - Farm Bill

The Farm Bill - H.R. 6124 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 - became law in June 2008. Section 10202 directs the USDA Secretary of Agriculture to establish the “National Clean Plant Network” (NCPN), a program under which a partnership of clean plant centers is organized for diagnostic and pathogen elimination services to produce clean propagative plant material and maintain blocks of pathogen-tested plant materials in sites located throughout the United States. Clean plant material may then be made available to States for certified clean plant programs and to private nurseries and producers. In carrying out the NCPN, USDA shall consult with State departments of agriculture, land grant universities, and non land grant colleges of agriculture. Additionally, to the extent practicable, and with appropriate State and industry input, NCPN shall use existing Federal or State facilities to serve as clean plant centers.  The program was reauthorized under the Agriculture Act of 2014 (commonly called the Farm Bill of 2014).  Section 10007 of the Farm Bill of 2014 combined the National Clean Plant Network (NCPN), formally Section 10202, with the Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention program, formally Section 10201, and provided additional funding for these two programs.  The Farm Bill made the NCPN a permanent program with dedicated funding.

NCPN - A Brief Program History
At its core, the NCPN is a collaborative effort among three USDA agencies; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for quarantine and regulatory programs, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) for technology and germplasm issues, and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) for outreach and partnership initiatives. The network is administered nationally by an 8 member NCPN Governing Board (NCPN-GB).

As a concept, however, the NCPN began in November 2006 when a steering committee, with representatives from the nursery industry, the grower community, the National Plant Board (NPB) and other state regulatory agencies, the land-grant university system, and USDA was formed to review existing “clean plant programs”, prioritize a list of specialty crops for funding, and propose an NCPN implementation process.

A national workshop sponsored by APHIS at Riverdale, Maryland in May 2007 was held to implement the NCPN and introduce the concept to a broader stakeholder base. This workshop developed the NCPN mission and vision statements and initiated drafting an NCPN strategic plan.

Basic to the NCPN concept are stakeholder driven, specialty crop focused, clean plant governing bodies composed of interested state, university, association, and industry partners. In 2007-2010 stakeholders representing fruit trees (pome and stone fruits), grapes, berries (strawberries, blueberries/cranberries, and cane fruit), citrus, and hops worked to form NCPN recognized governing bodies entrusted with prioritizing, harmonizing, and networking clean plant activities for their specialty crop groups under the NCPN banner.

The NCPN held general meetings in Washington, DC in March 2009, Davis, CA in May 2010, Riverdale, MD in November 2011. Highlights of these meetings included clean plant program progress reports, an introduction of a draft NCPN business plan, the installation of the NCPN Governing Board, discussions on NCPN Farm Bill program funding strategies, talks on clean plant center long-term sustainability, and a review and assessment of the programs direction and accomplishments as compared against its Strategic Plan.and the establishment of a comprehensive NCPN education, extension, and outreach program. At the 2009 meeting, the NCPN Federal partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding, setting the programs cornerstone.

NCPN Mission
The NCPN provides high quality asexually propagated plant material free of targeted plant pathogens and pests that cause economic loss to protect the environment and ensure the global competitiveness of specialty crop producers.

NCPN Vision
The NCPN's regional centers of excellence are recognized leaders in the introduction of the highest quality, regionally adapted, true-to-type propagative plant materials that are free of targeted plant pathogens and pests, thus promoting a vigorous commercial environment and the opportunity for international trade while protecting the environment of North America. Translational research, education and extension initiatives are fully funded to maintain the network's high quality collections and strengthen its services. Industry, research and regulatory communities collaborate to ensure an abundant supply of healthy specialty crops. The economic, environmental and social sustainability of specialty crop industries and the improved economies of the communities that depend on these industries are the ultimate impacts of the NCPN's robust service delivery.

NCPN Program Strategies
The draft NCPN business plan outlines five strategies and associated goals that are central to NCPN program implementation and ultimately to project funding:

  • Organization, Governance, and Structure
  • Program Operations; including Plant Pathogen Diagnostics, Therapeutics, and the Establishment of Foundations of Clean ‘Starter’ Plants
  • Methods and Technologies Development
  • Extension, Education, and Outreach
  • Program Performance, Quality Assurance, and Review

NCPN General Information
Additional information about NCPN can be obtained by viewing the following documents:

NCPN Cooperative Agreements Program
The National Clean Plant Network FY 2015 Cooperative Agreements Program is open to receive applications for funding consideration beginning on October 9, 2014.  The NCPN Request for Applications (RFA) shall remain open to receive applications until December 19, 2014.  The deadline for submitting proposals for FY 2015 is 11:59 pm ‘USA western time’.  It is suggested that applicants interested in applying for consideration do so through  A direct link to the NCPN RFA on is provided below at ‘Direct link to NCPN Cooperative Agreements Program Announcement.’

IMPORTANT SUGGESTION:  If an applicant runs into submission problems using or as a backup or an alternative application process (also permitted by the NCPN RFA) you may want to consider also submitting a back-up copy of your full application packet as a scanned or other formatted submission to us directly at NCPN.  Your may do this by several means:

1. By attachment to an e-mail sent to: and copy to

2. By Express Mail or regular mail to the address mentioned here:

Mr. Erich S. Rudyj, Coordinator – National Clean Plant Network (NCPN)
USDA, APHIS, PPQ, Science and Technology
National Clean Plant Network
4700 River Road, Room 5C.03.41
Riverdale, MD 20737
Phone:  (301) 851-2277
Fax:  (301) 734-5269

In both ‘ back-up’ cases above, the e-mail submission or other mail submissions must be ‘postmarked’ not later than December 19, 2014 at 11:59 pm ‘USA western time’.

In FY 2009, NCPN initiated its Cooperative Agreement program by supporting 5 clean plant centers covering fruit trees and grapes.  Then program was expanded in FY 2010 to cover a greater number of clean plant centers serving the clean plant needs of specialty crops and expanding the program to also include citrus berries and hops.  The program repeated again in FY 2011 and 2012.  Due to the lack of a Farm Bill in FY 2013, the program was unable to offer funding support through an FY 2013 Cooperative Agreements program.  The program was, however, reauthorized under the Agriculture Act of 2014 (also known as the Farm Bill 2014) and re-issued its NCPN FY 2014 Cooperative Agreement Request for Applications (RFA) as well as for FY 2015.

Links to NCPN Internet Resources
The Stakeholder Driven NCPN web site at the University of California - Davis

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