Thursday, June 17, 2010

Additional Funding to Fight Expected Grasshopper Outbreaks

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of emergency funding to conduct suppression treatments that will protect up to four million acres of rangeland in some western states potentially impacted by expected grasshopper outbreaks this year.

"USDA is closely monitoring the grasshopper situation, and is ready with both mitigation efforts and loss assistance programs to help communities impacted by this year's potential outbreak," said Vilsack. "The funding announced today will help us act quickly in states with economically significant outbreak levels and enhance our coordinated efforts with other federal agencies, state departments of agriculture, county and local agencies and private landowners to protect western rangeland."

The nearly $11 million in funding is being made available through USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Suppression Program, and will be used primarily for the application of aerial and ground insecticide treatments in response to requests for assistance in outbreak areas. APHIS will use the funds in areas identified by ongoing APHIS surveys as facing economically significant outbreaks. Although the Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Suppression Program covers rangeland and not cropland, some treatments conducted on federal rangeland help to protect both rangeland forage and cropland adjacent to the treated areas. The goal of the program is to suppress grasshopper and/or Mormon cricket populations during outbreak years, not to eradicate grasshoppers, which are native species and an important part of the rangeland ecosystem.

As part of this effort, APHIS will continue working very closely with other federal agencies; state, county and local governments; private ranchers and the public in responding to grasshopper outbreaks of economic significance on rangeland. In addition to the Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Suppression Program, APHIS is continuing to conduct surveys in 17 western states, and is providing technical assistance, and conducting education and outreach to cooperators at all levels.

Additionally, USDA is prepared to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers who might be impacted by grasshopper outbreaks this year. The Farm Service Agency has programs that offer assistance to farmers suffering an eligible and documented loss due to grasshopper infestations: the Non-insurable Crop Assistance Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program. Finally, the Federal Crop Insurance Program, administered by the Risk Management Agency, provides insurance products that address loss due to grasshoppers.

Surveys conducted by APHIS at the end of summer 2009 revealed very high numbers of adult grasshoppers in many western states, indicating that a large number of eggs may have been laid. As a result, APHIS is expecting potentially heavy grasshopper outbreaks this year in a number of western states beginning in early June and lasting throughout the summer. If the spring is relatively warm with little rainfall, conditions could be favorable for egg hatching and grasshopper survival. However, relatively cool and wet weather could limit the potential for outbreaks. The states that could see the heaviest outbreaks are Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. States with less severe outbreaks could include Idaho, Nevada and Utah.

More information about the 2010 grasshopper forecast, APHIS' response plans, and the Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Suppression Program is available online at

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