LANGHORNE, PA. – U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick joined Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and a bipartisan contingent of the Pennsylvania delegation in writing a letter to United States Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, that pushed for additional funds for spotted lanternfly research.

“Since 2014, Spotted Lanternflies have wreaked havoc on Pennsylvania’s agricultural sector, damaging our trees, vineyards, crop yields, and even our economy. Economic data from Penn State shows that the Spotted Lanternfly could cost Pennsylvania up to $324 million annually and the potential loss of up to 2,800 jobs. While there has been some progress, it is critically important we continue to secure more funding for research to combat and eradicate this invasive species once and for all,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to join Rep. Houlahan as we step up and fight for our communities' farmers and the vital role they play in our local economy.”

The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Berks County in 2014 and began threatening Pennsylvania’s agricultural industry by destroying various crops and plants. The pest has spread throughout the Commonwealth and even into several neighboring states. Last summer, it was reported that spotted lanternfly sightings increased by almost 500 percent.

“Since coming to Congress, this community had been on the front lines of eradicating the spotted lanternfly pest,” said Houlahan. “It continues to have a huge economic impact here in Chester and Berks counties, not just on our farmers, but on small business owners who rely on these supply chains and agricultural products…I am committed to working on a bipartisan basis with my colleagues, Brian Fitzpatrick and other members of our PA delegation, and local leaders…”

“Penn State scientists and Extension associates engage daily with families, landowners, and farmers to research and combat the spotted lanternfly,” said Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Rick Roush. “We are developing effective and environmentally safe tools and techniques, and importantly, sharing that critical information to impacted homeowners and the agriculture industry. Our collective impact is notable, but increased investment is vital to suppressing the invasive species population. Penn State is grateful to Representatives Houlahan and Fitzpatrick for their leadership in support of efforts to fight the Spotted Lanternfly.”

In the 116th Congress, the PA delegation successfully worked with the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure the Department’s budget request included an increase in funding to control this pest. The previous President’s FY21 budget included an increase of $4 million from FY20 to research and control SLF, for a total of $16 million. Fitzpatrick and Houlahan are seeking a further increase this Congress to combat the spread.

The full letter can be found here.