Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced that USDA would use nearly $1.2 million in contingency funding to help monitor, report and manage soybean rust during the 2005-growing season.

"These funds will enhance our federal, state and industry-coordinated effort to provide the most up-to-date information on where soybean rust exists in the United States and how best to protect against it," says Johanns.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service officials will apply the funding to soybean rust surveillance and monitoring; predictive modeling; Web-based dissemination of information to stakeholders; finalizing fungicide criteria; and communication and outreach.

Since the disease is most likely to spread to new areas through aerial spore dispersal, $800,000 will be spent on sentinel soybean plots in 35 states and Puerto Rico. APHIS also is transferring $180,000 to USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service to support mobile survey units dispatched to states to help quickly identify the disease and report surveillance data.

APHIS expects to spend $210,000 to update and maintain the new USDA Soybean Rust Web site, which it launched last month. The one-stop federal resource,, provides timely information on the extent and severity of soybean outbreaks in the United States, Caribbean basin and Central America.

The Asian species of the pathogen was first detected in Louisiana last year. The fungus has been found in eight other states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.