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Budget: $1.6M to Combat Spotted Lanternfly, Leverage More
Pennsylvania Ag Connection - 02/08/2018

In order to better respond to an invasive pest that is increasingly threatening Pennsylvania's economy and the quality of life of its citizens, Governor Tom Wolf Wednesday proposed nearly $1.6 million in dedicated funding to combat the Spotted Lanternfly as part of his fiscal year 2018-19 budget plan.

The funding, which is part of the Governor's proposal for the state Department of Agriculture, will enable the commonwealth to protect its agricultural industry, trade with other states and countries, and Pennsylvanians living in areas that have been infested by the pest.

"For more than three years, we have been trying to contain -- if not eradicate -- the Spotted Lanternfly in Pennsylvania," said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding. "When it first appeared in Berks County, it was the first time this particular species had been found in North America. And while we have limited its spread, it's clear we need dedicated resources to mount an effective response plan. Governor Wolf understands the importance of agriculture to Pennsylvania's economy, which is why he proposed this funding and is making it a priority."

The Spotted Lanternfly is an inch-long black, red and white spotted insect native to Southeast Asia. Since it was first identified in Pennsylvania in 2014, it has spread to 13 southeastern Pennsylvania counties. Quarantines have been established in those counties to prevent the movement of Spotted Lanternflies at any stage of their lifecycle.

The invasive insect to Pennsylvania threatens to destroy $18 billion worth of agricultural commodities produced in the state, such as apples, grapes and hardwoods, which would be devastating for producers and businesses. Further, if the state cannot contain or eradicate the pest, it threatens to jeopardize exports of products to other states and countries that want to prevent the pest from establishing a presence there.

Wolf's budget proposes $1.597 million in new funding through the Department of Agriculture's General Government Operations appropriation. This funding will allow the department to step up efforts for detection and eradication of the pest; coordinate multi-agency response, outreach and training; and purchase and distribute supplies to other partners. The proposed funding will also be used to leverage additional support from the federal government.

The Wolf administration has been in regular communication with federal partners about the need for additional financial resources to contain this invasive species. Last year, the department received $2.9 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to fund control efforts and $25,000 for outreach efforts to combat the insect's spread. In October, Secretary Redding wrote U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to request additional federal support.

Pennsylvania's congressional delegation has also advocated additional funding. U.S. Senator Bob Casey wrote to Secretary Perdue in November, and each member of Pennsylvania's House members wrote jointly in January to the leadership of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture.

"Pennsylvania's elected leaders from both sides of the aisle have been incredibly supportive of our need for additional resources because they understand the consequences of an ineffective response," said Secretary Redding. "Working together is absolutely essential to eliminating this threat. That is why we have worked closely with our federal and local partners to execute our response plan, but it is apparent that more resources will be needed from Washington if we are to be successful.

"Being able to say that Pennsylvania is willing to commit funds toward that end is important for signaling to USDA that we are serious about tackling this challenge. Governor Wolf recognizes that, and that is why he is proposing to dedicate this funding -- for the sake of our agriculture industry, our larger economy, and our residents," Secretary Redding added.

For more information on the Spotted Lanternfly, including resources residents can use to combat the pest, a map of the 13 quarantined counties, and information on how businesses in those counties can prevent spreading the bug through their shipments, visit agriculture.pa.gov/spottedlanternfly.

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