The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is receiving an additional $14.8 million to prevent the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle in Ohio.
Tom Vilsack, agriculture secretary for the USDA, announced that the state would be receiving additional funds Aug. 7.
“The funding is going to help quite a bit,” Rhonda Santos, public information officer for the USDA-APHIS, said. “Additional funds during this economic time are fantastic for the program. It means we can do more.”
Santos said the eradication program requested additional funding, and the $14.8 million will be for this fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
“That is in addition to the $7 million that were appropriated funds,” Santos said.
Santos said the funds will be used to increase tree inspection surveys and ensure the timely removal of trees, which will both help prevent the spread of the Asian longhorned beetle and determine the extent of the area of infestation.
“It will be very beneficial in knowing what we are dealing with,” Santos said about being able to increase surveys in the area.
She said they will likely be able to increase the number of surveyors in Ohio with the additional funds.
Santos said aside from three permanent APHIS employees in Ohio, other APHIS surveyors and staff rotate in and out of the state.
“Most are there 30-60 days,” Santos said. “Certainly the additional funds will allow for an additional push.”
Santos said the program has also made a commitment to help with re-planting efforts in the area.
“It is likely some of those funds will be for replanting,” Santos added. “But the plans for that are still to be determined.”
Santos said they will receive the funds for the upcoming fiscal year. She said they are beginning to plan specifically how the funds will be used.
Santos said in 2011, APHIS spent approximately $5.2 million on Asian longhorned beetle eradication activities in Ohio. Of that, $3.7 million came from appropriated funds and $1.5 million came from funds received because of a section of the 2008 Farm Bill.
APHIS officials have been in Ohio since the Asian longhorned beetle was discovered in Tate Township in June of 2011.
Eradication efforts began that month with thousands of tree surveys and progressed to tree removals.
As of Aug. 4, 8,597 infested trees have been removed in Ohio out of 8,699 confirmed infested trees. More than 159,960 trees have been surveyed in the state.
Santos said they are continuing to close the gap between infested and removed trees in Ohio, which is a good sign.
“Every week they are removing more trees than they found infested,” Santos said. “That was not the case in the beginning.”
For more information about the USDA-APHIS Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program or the Asian longhorned beetle visit www.beetlebusters.info.