Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has 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," says 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 its surveys as facing economically significant outbreaks. Although the suppression program covers rangeland and not cropland, some treatments on federal rangeland help protect both rangeland forage and cropland adjacent to the treated areas.

USDA points out in a press release that APHIS will continue working 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, the agency 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 says it’s prepared to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers who might be impacted by grasshopper outbreaks. The Farm Service Agency’s Non-Insurable Crop Assistance Program and Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees and Farm-Raised Fish Program both assist farmers suffering eligible and documented losses due to grasshopper infestations. Also, the Federal Crop Insurance Program has insurance products that cover losses from 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 in a number of states beginning in early June and lasting throughout the summer. 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 at www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/grasshopper/index.shtml.