WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In response to Pennsylvania’s Spotted Lanternfly infestation, Representative Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Representative Ryan Costello (PA-6) helped organize a bipartisan Pennsylvania delegation effort to inform the House Committee on Agriculture of the need for increased prevention funding in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018’s Farm Bill. All 17 members of the Pennsylvania delegation—including their fellow Berks County Representatives: Lloyd Smucker (PA-16) and Pat Meehan (PA-7) —also signed onto the bipartisan letter.

Native to Southeastern Asia, the Spotted Lanternfly first appeared in Berks County in 2014, marking its first appearance in North America. Four years later, it has spread to 13 counties in eastern and southeastern Pennsylvania, including Berks, Lehigh, Northampton, and Lebanon. The species’ invasive feeding pattern causes significant damage to plant life, including apples, grapes, peaches, stone fruits, dogwood, maples, walnut, oak, and pines. If left unchecked, the Spotted Lanternfly infestation could be devastating for Pennsylvania’s agriculture, hardwood, and hops industries, potentially destroying up to $18 billion worth of products and destroying the state’s economy. 

“This Spotted Lanternfly menace has the potential for a domino effect of irreparable damage here in Pennsylvania and globally,” Dent said. “There are grave concerns that their eggs will spread to state and foreign trading partners through the Port of Philadelphia—one of the largest gateways in the country.   Through the cooperation of our federal and state agriculture departments, higher education resources, and local entities, we have successfully kept the Spotted Lanternfly from spreading into other states through preventative measures. However, additional assistance and funding through the Farm Bill will be needed in order to fully eradicate this agricultural threat here in Pennsylvania.”

Representative Ryan Costello also warned of the dire consequences posed by the insect. “The Spotted Lanternfly is wreaking havoc on many farming operations and homes. I join my colleagues in requesting additional funding in the Farm Bill to help contain and stop this pest so it does not disrupt our local economy any more than it already has,” said Costello. 

The letter, addressed to House Agriculture Chairman Michael Conaway (TX-11) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (MN-7), requests a funding increase of $20-40 million annually to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Health Inspection Service (APHIS)’s Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Protection Program.

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Copy of Letter Attached

CONTACT: Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490