Pa. Farm Bill touted as aid to fight spotted lanternfly

Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding points to a spotted lanternfly vehicle permit on a tractor-trailer cab in Lancaster County.

As the spotted lanternfly begins to hatch for a new season, state and federal agriculture officials are expanding their efforts to contain the destructive insect.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding met Wednesday with officials from Penn State and the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Lancaster County Central Park in West Lampeter Township.

Redding spoke about the proposed Pennsylvania Farm Bill, which, he said, would provide $5 million in funding to help contain the spotted lanternfly, which first appeared in the U.S. in Berks County in 2014.

"Spotted lanternfly threatens Pennsylvania's economy, our ability to transport goods, and simply enjoy being outdoors," Redding said. "We have slowed the spread of this destructive pest by working strategically as a team. The investments proposed in the Pennsylvania Farm Bill will help ensure that we are positioned to combat other pest and disease threats."

In addition, USDA recently dedicated more than $6.2 million in new funding to Pennsylvania's efforts to combat the spotted lanternfly.

Wednesday's event came a year after the state Department of Agriculture introduced a permit system to train businesses and employees how to recognize the life stages of the spotted lanternfly. To date, the department has issued nearly 370,000 permits to businesses that travel in and out of the quarantine area.

"With a year of research under our belt, we can now provide growers and homeowners with more specific recommendations on how to control spotted lanternfly," said Rick Roush, the dean of Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences. "It is imperative for businesses and the public to engage in management strategies if we hope to get this pest under control."

In the coming weeks, state agriculture compliance and enforcement teams will work with state police to perform roadside permit checks at regular commercial vehicle checkpoints. The goal, officials said, is to raise awareness among businesses that don't have permits and encourage them to voluntarily join efforts to stop the spotted lanternfly from spreading.

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