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WHEREAS, in 2007, New Jersey saw some of the heaviest devastation by gypsy moth caterpillars in nearly two decades, and egg mass surveys conducted throughout the fall of 2007 have shown that a heavier population of the caterpillars will emerge in the Spring of 2008 and the infestation will be even worse; and

WHEREAS, more than 320,000 acres of valuable shade and forest trees were defoliated in 2007, resulting in the death of the equivalent of 14,000 acres of trees due to consecutive defoliation by gypsy moth caterpillars; and an estimated 45,000 acres of trees will be lost in 2008 if the pest is not successfully controlled; and

WHEREAS, the mass dispersal of gypsy moth caterpillars from heavily infested areas has seriously impacted agricultural operations in many parts of the state - including blueberry and cranberry farms, nurseries, Christmas tree farms and tree farms - causing crop damage and/or increased management costs from additional pesticide applications; and

WHEREAS, for the first time in 25 years, nearly all of the approximately 3,500 acres of commercial cranberry bogs in New Jersey received additional insecticide sprays in 2007 in order to protect the bogs from gypsy moth damage; and

WHEREAS, in 2007 a number of blueberry fields in Burlington County sustained total crop loss, despite spraying, when those plantings were overrun by the overwhelming numbers of caterpillars that devoured the leaves and blueberry flowers; and

WHEREAS, trees and forests clean and refresh the air by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen; likewise, forests clean and impede surface water run-off, increase groundwater recharge, stabilize soils, and provide shade, food and habitat for birds and a wide variety of other wildlife; and standing dead trees are a safety hazard to the public, as well as, a fire hazard; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture is limited to using only the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki, or B.t.k., in aerial applications for fighting gypsy moth; and the largest spray program carried out to date in New Jersey was 80,000 acres in 1981; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Agriculture is proposing treatments on 107,800 acres of private or locally owned lands, and the severity of the outbreak will require a second treatment on nearly 80,000 acres if B.t.k. is used; and B.t.k. has provided limited effectiveness, even when applied twice; and the delivery of such a program is logistically questionable, given the available personnel resources and spray aircraft; and

WHERAS, the insecticide Dimilin is EPA approved and recommended by the US Forest Service for gypsy moth control, and a single application of Dimilin is significantly more effective against gypsy moth than double applications of  B.t.k., and would complement B.t.k. treatments providing a logistically deliverable program.  

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 93rd State Agricultural Convention, assembled in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on February 6, 2008, support expanding the range of pesticides approved for use in aerial suppression of gypsy moth application to include the insecticide Dimilin to help avoid another year of extensive defoliation, crop loss and tree loss.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the delegates to the 93rd State Agricultural Convention urge the Governor to support amending the Department of Agriculture’s gypsy moth rules to allow for the use of insecticides which are EPA approved and recommended by the US Forest Service, and specifically including the use of Dimilin; and support the Department of Agriculture’s petition to the Department of Environmental Protection to permit the aerial application of the insecticide Dimilin, in addition to B.t.k. for gypsy moth control, during these times of extreme outbreaks.