May 31, 2022
Faith T. Campbell, President, Center for Invasive Species Prevention, on behalf of 16 organizations, many of which are members of the Sustainable Urban Forests Coalition (SUFC).
Committee on Agriculture
Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies
United States House of Representatives
Public Witness Testimony re:
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
The undersigned organizations urge continued support by the Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development for a federal program that is key to protecting America’s urban and rural forests from pest-caused mortality and associated threat to sustainability in the face of climate change: the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). APHIS is responsible for preventing introduction and spread of invasive pests. While most port inspections are carried out by the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Customs and Border Protection, APHIS sets the policy guidance. APHIS also inspects imports of living plants.
|Program||FY 2021 (millions)||FY 2022 CR (millions)||FY 2023 Pres’ request (millions)||Our ask (millions)|
|Tree & Wood Pest||$60.456||$61.217||$63||$70|
Four USDA APHIS programs are essential for protecting the nation’s forests from invasive pests: Tree and Wood Pests, Specialty Crops, Methods Development, and Pest Detection. We thank you for the incremental increases in funding for these programs in the FY22 Continuing Resolution. We also welcome additional increases proposed by the Administration. However, we suggest that a more substantial investment is warranted.
Introduced pests threaten many forest products and services benefitting all Americans, including wood products, wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, clean water and air, storm water management, lower energy costs, improved health, aesthetic enjoyment, and related jobs. These pests also impose significant costs, borne principally by municipal governments and homeowners. As more pests have been accidentally introduced over time, these costs have risen.
A recently published article (Hudgins, Koch, Ambrose, and Leung. 2022. Hotspots of pest-induced US urban tree death, 2020–2050. Journal of Applied Ecology), cited in the Washington Post, projects that by 2050 1.4 million street trees in urban areas and communities will be killed by introduced insect
pests. Removing and replacing these trees is projected to cost cities $30 million per year. Additional urban trees – in parks, other plantings, on homeowners’ properties, and in urban woodlands – are also expected to die.
Municipalities on the forefront include Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin; the Chicago area; Cleveland; and Baltimore, Towson, and Salisbury, Maryland.
Tree-killing pests are linked to the international supply chain. Many pests—especially the highly damaging wood-borers like emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, polyphagous and Kuroshio shot hole borers—arrive in inadequately treated crates, pallets, and other forms of packaging made of wood. Other pests—especially plant diseases like sudden oak death and sap sucking insects like hemlock woolly adelgid—come on imported plants. Some pests take shelter, or lay their eggs, in or on virtually any exposed hard surface, such as steel or decorative stone.
Imports from Asia have historically transported the most damaging pests. It is unfortunate, then, that imports from Asia have reached unprecedented volume. As of February 2022, U.S. imports from Asia were running at a rate of 20 million shipping containers per year. One analysis indicates that perhaps 7,500 of these containers are carrying a tree-killing pest. These facts have led scientists to project that by 2050, the number of non-native wood-boring insects established in the United States could triple. Most damaging would be the hypothetical introduction from Asia of a theoretical wood-boring insect that attacks maples or oaks. Such a pest could kill 6.1 million trees and cost American cities $4.9 billion over 30 years. The risk would be highest if this pest were introduced to the South – and current trade data show that U.S. southern ports are receiving more direct shipments from Asia.
Once introduced, invasive pests do not stay in the cities where they first arrived. Instead, they proliferate and spread. They are often accidentally transported to new areas in firewood, on plants, and on outdoor household goods such as patio furniture.
In this way, the pests introduced to our cities threaten not just the trees in city parks, along our streets, and in people’s yards, but also the natural forest stands across the country. Scientists estimate these pests threaten 41% of forest tree biomass across the contiguous United States. Death of these trees will significantly impair nature-based solutions to climate change.
To respond effectively to these pests and to the others that will be introduced in coming years, the key APHIS programs identified above must have adequate funds. For this reason, we thank the Congress for increasing funding for APHIS’ Tree and Wood Pests program to $61.2 million in FY2022 and ask that you raise that funding level to $70 million in FY2023.
The Tree and Wood Pests account supports eradication and control efforts targeting principally the Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) and spongy (formerly gypsy) moth. Eradicating the ALB normally receives about two-thirds of the funds. The programs in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina must continue until eradication succeeds.
APHIS terminated its domestic emerald ash borer (EAB) regulatory program in January 2021. It is probable that, in the absence of a federal domestic regulation, EAB will now spread more rapidly to the mountain and Pacific Coast states. Indeed, the research cited above identified Seattle and Takoma
as likely to lose thousands of ash trees in coming decades. This result shows what happens when APHIS programs are inadequately funded.
APHIS manages damaging pests introduced on imported plants or other items through its Specialty Crops program. Examples include sudden oak death (SOD; which attacks more than 100 species of trees and shrubs, including oaks and rhododendrons); the rapid ʻōhiʻa death pathogen that threatens Hawai`i’s most widespread tree, ʻōhiʻa lehua; beech leaf disease, a newly discovered threat that is
killing beech trees in a band stretching from Ohio to Maine; and the spotted lanternfly. Repeatedly, SOD-infected plants have been shipped from nurseries in the Pacific Coast states to vulnerable states across the East and South. The spotted lanternfly has spread from Pennsylvania to Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, even Indiana. This pest threatens both native trees and agricultural crops – including hops, grapes, apples, and more. California has adopted a state quarantine in hopes of preventing its introduction to that state. Still, APHIS has not established a quarantine. We support the Administration’s request for $219 million for the Specialty Crops program. However, we ask that the Committee ensure that APHIS allots adequate funding under this budget line to management of both sudden oak death and spotted lanternfly.
We support increased funding for two additional programs that are the foundation for effective pest prevention. First, the Pest Detection program is key to the prompt detection of newly introduced pests that is critical to successful pest eradication or containment. Second, the “Methods Development” program enables APHIS to improve development of essential detection and eradication tools.
Finally, we support the Administration’s request for a $50.794 million fund for management of emergencies threatening America’s agricultural and natural resources. We are encouraged that this program includes a $6 million increase for work with the Climate Conservation Corps specifically targetting invasive species. The program will improve surveillance methods to more quickly detect incursions and develop better methods to mitigate the impacts of invasive species already causing economic and environmental damage. We look forward to learning more about how these funds are utilized. We certainly hope that they will not be allocated disproportionately to addressing animal diseases and pests.
Thank you for your attention to these important matters. We look forward to working with you.
Prepared by Faith T. Campbell, President, Center for Invasive Species Prevention www.cisp.us
Alliance for Community Trees
American Society of Consulting Arborists
Arbor Day Foundation
Green Infrastructure Center Inc.
Maryland Forestry Foundation
National Association of Landscape Professionals
NC Urban Forest Council
Society of American Foresters
The Nature Conservancy
Town of Friday Harbor
Tree Care Industry Association