Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Emerald Ash Borer and Farm Bill Among Topics Covered

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today meet with Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to discuss the need for increased funding to eradicate Emerald Ash Borer from the state. Durbin also addressed issues important to Illinois farmers which are likely to be contained in the 2007 Farm Bill. Illinois has more than 131 million ash trees, comprising about 20 percent of all of the trees in the Chicago area, said Durbin.

In the past few years, the Emerald Ash Borer has killed tens of millions of trees throughout the Midwest. This is a problem that cannot wait for the bureaucratic wheels to slowly turn. Today, I urged Secretary Johanns to provide the state with additional funding to combat this infestation. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a bright green beetle that kills trees by burrowing into their bark and destroying the trees ability to bring water from the roots to upper branches. Infected trees usually begin to die within two to three years.

The Emerald Ash Borer was first discovered in Kane County, Illinois in mid-June. On July 11, the Illinois Department of Agriculture announced its second discovery of the ash borer in the Village of Wilmette in Cook County. Last June, in response to the discovery of EAB in Illinois, Durbin wrote to Secretary Johanns and APHIS Administrator Ron DeHaven requesting their immediate attention to this issue. In July, USDA announced the release of $7.6 million in emergency funding to conduct surveys and control EAB in Illinois.

So far, about $800,000 of the $7.6 million has been spent and Illinois Department of Agriculture and USDA-APHIS have set up the necessary cooperative agreements to transfer another $2.5 million by the end of the year. In today's meeting, Durbin also discussed the 2007 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill will likely contain a number of provisions important to Illinois farmers including improving protections for farmers in the event of natural disasters such as droughts and flooding, maintaining nutrition programs like Food Stamps and the Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) and increasing federal support for innovative renewable energy projects. Earlier this year, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees held a series of hearings around the country to gather information from farmers and other stakeholders on a variety of topics, including crop insurance, commodity programs, rural development, renewable energy and others. The Agriculture Committee is expected to begin writing the Farm Bill next year.


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