Peters calls for SWAT Act in farm bill

A U.S. Senator wants the farm bill to help farmers stop an invasive pest threatening the production of soft fruits.

Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, along with U.S. Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Braun of Indiana, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, has reintroduced the bipartisan Spotted Wing Abatement Trust (SWAT) Act which creates a fund to accelerate research that would control the spread of spotted wing drosophila.

Chad Reenders with the Michigan Blueberry Advisory Committee tells Brownfield damage from the pest makes fruit unsalable and federal funding will benefit growers across the country.

“You’re talking about a substantial amount of research that can go beyond what our money is capable of doing,” he says. “(It would) bring in more people to do research, to figure out the best way to attack this bug, and possibly fix the problem that we’ve been dealing with for many years now.”

Peters will be in West Michigan Friday to visit with blueberry farmers battling the invasive pest and to learn about current research with Michigan State University.

Spotted wing drosophila have caused more than an estimated $700 million in economic loss per year nationally. 

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