This week, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) joined members of the Spotted Lanternfly Community Engagement Taskforce to discuss the ongoing work to combat the Spotted Lanternfly and funding for those efforts under the PA Farm Bill.
“Invasive species like the Spotted Lanternfly pose a significant threat to Pennsylvania’s products and environment,” said Secretary Redding. “The PA Farm Bill will designate targeted funds to help contain disasters, outbreaks, and threats, helping us to protect our agricultural commodities and preserve the quality of life for Pennsylvanians.”
As part of National Invasive Species Awareness WeekOpens In A New Window, today’s roundtable discussion allowed Secretary Redding and Senator Schwank to hear from members of the community whose lives are affected by the Spotted Lanternfly. The 13 members of the Spotted Lanternfly Community Engagement Taskforce are tasked with identifying the best ways to inform the community about the Spotted Lanternfly, and deliver updates on control efforts back to the local area.
“Berks County has been at the forefront of fighting the Spotted Lanternfly ever since it was discovered in 2014,” Sen. Schwank said. “This taskforce is critical in supporting our efforts to combat this invasive pest.”
The PA Farm Bill, announced last week, would invest more than $24 million in Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry to bolster infrastructure, expand resources, and cultivate future generations of leaders within agriculture. The plan includes the Pennsylvania Rapid Response Disaster Readiness Account, which funds $5 million to allow for a quick response to agriculture disasters, including using animal or plant health officials to contain an outbreak or threat, like the Spotted Lanternfly.
Over the past year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has engaged in a multi-pronged approach to control the invasive pest with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Penn State. PDA has taken responsibility for suppressing Spotted Lanternfly populations in the core infestation area, while USDA has established a perimeter extending 18 miles out from the core area, where they are working to eliminate any infestation. Between the two agencies, the entire Spotted Lanternfly quarantine area – 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania – are being covered. Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences has taken the lead on public outreach through its Penn State Extension service.
The commonwealth is also engaging with the business community, stressing the risk that interstate and international commerce may be impeded. Businesses operating within the quarantine must obtain an operating permit, which requires training and passing a test to demonstrate a working knowledge and understanding of the pest and quarantine requirements. Permits demonstrate that individuals can identify the pest and ensure that it is not present on transported items.
With events held across the nation, National Invasive Species Awareness Week is held from February 25 – March 3 to raise awareness and identify solutions to invasive species issues at local, state, national, and international levels.