Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Fights for Funding for Sustainable Agriculture

July 23, 2020
Press Release
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced funding for a number of key agriculture and food priorities for Hawai‘i in the $153 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Funding Bill. The bill will now be included as part of a combined appropriations bill to be considered by the House of Representatives tomorrow.
 
“Access to locally-grown nutritious food is crucial to improve health outcomes in Hawai‘i and around the country. This bill allows us to make needed, practical investments in our communities that will help us better empower farmers and strengthen our food security,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Through this bill I was able to secure the funding and support needed to help Hawai‘i’s farmers fight invasive pests as well as improve specialty crop production, floriculture, and programs that bring greater healthy food choices into our communities.”
 
The annual Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Funding Bill provides funding for agriculture, rural development, the FDA, and other food and agriculture related agencies and projects. This year’s bill provides an increase of $487 million above the FY2020 enacted level for a FY2021 funding level of $23.98 billion. 
 
Rep. Gabbard led efforts to protect Hawai‘i’s specialty crops, crop health, and strengthen pest control programs. Through her leadership, the bill includes:
  • $1 million in funding for the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative
  • support for the Coffee Plant Health Initiative, areawide integrated pest management as well as addressing impacts of the avocado lace bug, the spittlebug, and Little Fire Ant
  • funding provided by the committee for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Canine Detection and Surveillance and language encouraging APHIS in collaboration with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to study the feasibility of using canines to detect coffee leaf rust
  • funding for research into tropical agriculture, specialty crop production, and floriculture
  • support for the establishment of a National Program Leader dedicated to Weed Science Research and Management in the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
  • $5 million for the Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grant Program
 
Rep. Gabbard also secured a requirement for a report directed by ARS in collaboration with NIFA, the Forest Service, APHIS, the USDA Climate Hubs on efforts to assist Hawai‘i, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands in the following research areas: 
  • land and forest resource management
  • enhancing the viability and sustainability of local food production systems
  • biology and control of invasive insects, plant diseases, weedy plant species, and the development of integrated pest management strategies to control them
  • molecular biology and bioengineering advancements on agricultural production and human and ecosystem health in tropical and subtropical areas, and 
  • the application of precision agriculture technologies, data, and tools to increase cost efficiencies.
 
Rep. Gabbard worked with her colleagues to fund and support:
  • hemp production
  • agriculture technology, urban agriculture, micro-grants for food security, and sustainable food systems
  • WIC Farmers' Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Commodity Supplemental Food Program, McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
  • agroecology and pest management, water protection, organic programs
  • the Rural Utilities Services Electric Loans Program as well as rural development programs for housing, business, community development, and infrastructure
 
The bill also addresses the cost of school meals, perennially an issue in Hawai‘i, by directing the USDA to update its 1979 calculation of federal meal subsidies to reflect the 2021 cost of producing school breakfast and lunch. 
 
Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a leader in Congress fighting for sustainable agriculture and healthy food choices. She has consistently fought for transparency in food labeling, advocated for local farmers and locally-grown, fresh food, and has been a leader in Congress fighting against invasive species. In December, she introduced legislation to fight the invasive spittlebug, building on her work successfully securing research and development funding to help Hawai‘i farmers fight back against the macadamia felted coccid that has destroyed farms and threatened the livelihoods of dozens of communities in last year’s Farm bill. Rep. Gabbard has introduced the Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) Act, the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative, and the Coffee Plant Health Initiative to support long-term and sustainable solutions to fight invasive species in Hawaiʻi and across the country. Additionally, in support of food production in distressed communities, Rep. Gabbard introduced the Urban Agriculture Healthy Food and Entrepreneur Act.
 
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for over 17 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
 
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