December 16, 2020

Gillibrand Calls For $16 Million In Funding To Combat The Invasive Spotted Lanternfly

Destructive Spotted Lanternfly Threatens To Destroy Vineyards In Finger Lakes And Hudson Valley And Impede Region’s Economic Recovery

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. 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,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Congress must ensure the Specialty Crop Pest program is fully funded to prevent further spread.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.  

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Dear Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger: 

I respectfully ask that you fully fund the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Specialty Crop Pest program in the final FY21 Agriculture Appropriations bill, and within that funding provide $16.066 million for the spotted lanternfly, which is consistent with the House funding level for FY 2021. Fully funding this pest initiative will help contain this invasive species that is devastating northeastern crops and has the potential to spread to further states. 

Spotted lanternfly, Lycorma delicatula, is an invasive species that 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. Currently there are infestations of spotted lantern fly in nine states, including in my home state of New York. 

It is imperative that this pest is contained before it further invades the Eastern Seaboard and eventually makes its spread across the United States. This would have devastating effects on agriculture, tourism, and residential homes. Through their research, Cornell University has highlighted that the spotted lanternfly has a strong preference for specialty crops such as grapes, decimating entire vineyards in Pennsylvania. If this pest is able to migrate out of its current location, it could prove to be devastating for all states with a strong specialty crop sector.

In order to further manage the spread of this invasive species. I strongly urge you to include $16.066 million for the spotted lanternfly, within the APHIS Specialty Crop Pest program, in the final FY2021 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Thank you for consideration of this request.    

Sincerely,