Gillibrand seeks $16 million in federal funds to combat invasive spotted lanternfly

Posted 16 December 2020 at 11:47 am

Destructive insect seen as threat to agriculture

Photo by Michael Houtz: The Spotted Lanternfly as an adult.

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, is calling on Congress to deliver $16.066 million in funding to combat the spotted lanternfly, an invasive species that threatens specialty crops, including grapes, across the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley.

In a letter to appropriators, Gillibrand called for full funding of the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Specialty Crop Pest program in the final FY21 Agriculture Appropriations bill, and specifically provide $16.066 million for the spotted lanternfly, consistent with the House funding level.

“The spotted lanternfly has proven to be an invasive and destructive pest that threatens New York State’s specialty crops, especially vineyards throughout the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley,” Gillibrand said. “If not contained, this pest will have devastating economic consequences on agriculture, tourism, and residential homes, at a time when our economy needs these industries for a strong recovery. Congress must ensure the Specialty Crop Pest program is fully funded to prevent further spread.”

The spotted lanternfly is thought to have arrived in the United States in 2012. According to Cornell University, the first infestation was found in Berks County, Pennsylvania in 2014.

“Although quarantine measures were taken in the infested townships and efforts were taken to eradicate this pest, spotted lanternfly has proved difficult to contain,” Gillibrand wrote Dec. 11 in a letter Sen. Richard Shelby, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations. “It is imperative that this pest is contained before it further invades the Eastern Seaboard and eventually makes its spread across the United States.”