Senate Bill Includes $4 Million In New Funding To Combat Invasive Forest Pests

… Emerald Ash Borer And Asian Long-Horned Beetle Threaten New England’s Tourism Economy And Maple Industry …

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, May 25, 2018) – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thursday announced that a spending bill approved by the Committee includes $4 million in new funding to combat invasive forest pests that threaten a variety of native hardwood species across New England like maple, birch, elm, poplar, horse chestnut and willow trees.

Leahy said: “New England, and Vermont in particular, is iconic for our annual explosion of color, with fall foliage and the billowing plumes of steam coming from sugar shacks in the spring. Invasive forest pests like the Asian long-horned beetle and the emerald ash borer threaten to destroy this resource in ways that could have devastating consequences for our economy. This is important to Vermont and I made this one of my priorities in the writing of this bill. This will help us tackle a problem that threatens to only grow worse.”

The total funding of $60 million was included in the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill, which must now be considered by the full Senate. This is one of 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the federal government. The Trump administration’s budget proposal would have slash funding to control these pests and protect plant health by $31 million for fiscal year 2019.

More than a third of Vermont’s hardwood trees are at risk of the Asian long-horned beetle, and particularly maple trees, which are vital to Vermont’s economy as the largest producer of maple sugar in the United States. Just this year, a new invasive pest, the emerald ash borer, was discovered in Vermont that could have equally devastating consequences. The emerald ash borer can kill a tree in 3 to 5 years, and for a state like Vermont, which is known for its fall foliage, the loss of ash trees could be devastating for the state’s tourism economy.

The $4 million increase secured by Leahy to combat this problem was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday. The bill must now be considered by the full Senate, passed by the House, negotiated between the Senate and the House, and signed by the President before it is law.

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