Pest management center established A new regional Pest Management Center, one of four in the nation, has been established at the University of Florida to strengthen connections between agricultural producers and research and education programs in 13 southern states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"The UF center will improve the link between pest management researchers and farmers and ranchers in the southern U.S.," said Norm Nesheim, professor and pesticide information coordinator with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences in Gainesville.

Major objective "Our major objective will be to assist the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency in implementing the Food Quality Protection Act passed by Congress in 1966," he said. "We will focus on a full range of agricultural pests - from insects to rodents."

Nesheim, who will direct the center with Russ Mizell, professor of entomology at UF's North Florida Research and Education Center in Monticelo, said the southern region has a wide diversity of fruit and vegetable crops, including citrus and tropical fruits.

"Florida's warm, humid climate, coupled with our geographic location, makes the state particularly vulnerable to the accidental introduction of exotic pests from other areas," Nesheim said. "This presents special issues for us."

Nesheim and Mizell, who submitted a proposal for the center to USDA, were successful recipients of a $1.3 million grant to initiate the program at UF. The grant will underwrite operation of the center for one year, with annual renewals over a three-year period.

Three other regional centers will be headquartered at Michigan State University and the University of Illinois for the north central region; Pennsylvania State University and Cornell University of the northeast, and the University of California-Davis for the western region.