Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill to Fight Invasive Spittlebug

December 10, 2019
Press Release
Washington, DC—Yesterday, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Ed Case (HI-01) introduced H.R.5362, the Spittlebug Act, which would help fight the invasive Cercopoidea, or spittlebug. The legislation would authorize research and extension grants to develop ways to combat the spittlebug and also establish an areawide integrated pest management program to control the damage and spread of a spittlebug infestation.
“Spittlebugs threaten our precious ecosystems by damaging our farms, agricultural production, and the environment. While a spittlebug infestation has already negatively affected our grasslands in West Hawai‘i, other states across the country also face the challenge posed by this invasive species,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “My bill will support efforts to control this invasive species, find new ways in which we can protect our environment, and help protect our economy.”
“Our grasslands are critical parts of our ecosystem and support critical industries like ranching,” said Rep. Ed Case. “The spittlebug already threatens grasslands in some thirty mainland states and now, since its discovery as an invasive species in 2016, our Hawai‘i. We must take integrated action now to prevent its spread and worsening impacts to our cattle industry and natural environment.”
Background: Studies conducted by the University of Hawai‘i beginning in 2016 have shown that a spittlebug infestation initiates a chain reaction that begins with the ravaging of key pasture grasses, creating an opportunity for invasive grasses to grow rampant. These invasive grasses lower the quality of the pasturelands rendering it unproductive for livestock grazing. The latest report from November 2019 found about 142,468 acres of pasturelands infested with spittlebug, compared to 2,000 acres in September 2016.
Across the country, the spittlebug is ravishing forage and turf grasses on public and private lands.  States most impacted include Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a leader in Congress on combating invasive species and fighting for sustainable agriculture. In Hawaiʻi, invasive species, including the spittlebug, coffee berry borer, fire ant, fruit flies, and macadamia felted coccid and others cost our local farmers and agriculture industry millions in lost revenue every year, threaten our unique ecosystem, agriculture, and waterways, as well as our food supply and public health. Tulsi successfully secured 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. Tulsi has introduced the Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) Act and Macadamia Tree Health Initiative to support long-term and sustainable solutions to fight invasive species in Hawaiʻi and across the country. 
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 16 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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