Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says he’s introducing legislation to make more money available to help Iowa communities deal with the infestation of the emerald ash borer.
Braley says the USDA already has a fund dedicated to dealing with the invasive pest, but it doesn’t have the money it once had. “When the ash borer was spreading to states like Ohio and Indiana, there was about 37 million dollars available annually in that account to combat this beetle,” Braley says. “However funding was recently slashed by nearly 80 percent.”
Iowa has now confirmed EAB infestations in eight counties, including Braley’s home county in the first district. He says it’s a matter of where the funds are directed, not adding more funds. “It’s a result of shifting resources within the Department of Agriculture that this has occurred. In fact, Iowa has already paid for this,” Braley says in reference to the money spent on battling EAB in other states.
Braley, who is running for the U.S. Senate in 2014, sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I haven’t had a chance to personally speak to the secretary, but I hope to do so and follow up on the letter I wrote to him,” Braley says. Vilsack is the former governor of Iowa and Braley says that should give him a lot of interest in helping the state deal with the EAB problem.