Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Secures Funding to Fight Invasive Species, Legalize Industrial Hemp

December 12, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted to pass bipartisan legislation that empowers family farmers and ranchers, secures federal funding to fight invasive species, supports the industrial hemp industry, empowers rural and indigenous communities, and protects access to food assistance for low-income families in Hawai‘i and across the country. The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), known as the Farm Bill, passed by a vote of 369-47.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard successfully included her Macadamia Tree Health Initiative (H.R. 1402) — to provide vital research and development to fight the macadamia felted coccid that threatens the local macadamia nut industry —in this year’s Farm Bill. The congresswoman also supported language from the Industrial Hemp Farming Act (H.R. 3530) to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawai‘i, as well as provisions to remove hemp from the federal list of controlled substances and allow hemp farmers to apply for crop insurance.  

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said: “The Farm Bill that passed today was a bipartisan compromise that provides certainty for working families, empowers small and sustainable farms, and expands agricultural opportunities for Hawai‘i and across the country. This legislation protects food stamp funding that nearly 170,000 of our keiki, kūpuna, veterans and working families across Hawai'i rely on. It also invests in agricultural and rural development, conservation efforts to protect our air, land, and water, clean energy programs, and assistance for veteran, indigenous, and low-income farmers.

“This bill has finally opened the door for industrial hemp — a domestic industry that already has a market value of roughly $620 million in the U.S. per year — creating great opportunity for sustainable jobs across many sectors.

“I successfully secured much-needed 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, especially on Hawai‘i Island.”

 

Provisions in the Farm Bill include:

  • Maintaining current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefit levels, that provide food assistance for millions of children, seniors, servicemembers and their families, individuals with disabilities, and working families struggling to make ends meet. In 2017, SNAP aided 42 million Americans, including 169,000 in Hawai‘i.

  • Allowing full cultivation and transportation of hemp by amending the Controlled Substances Act. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has supported legislation like the Hemp Farming Act and the Industrial Hemp Act to leverage the hemp industry’s demonstrated health, environmental, and economic benefits and expand upon the already booming $620 million hemp-product industry.

  • Funding invasive species research in Hawai‘i to fight the macadamia felted coccid, an invasive species destroying macadamia trees and threatening the domestic macadamia nut industry. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard successfully included her Macadamia Tree Health Initiative --to authorize sorely-needed research and development to fight the invasive insect and establish an Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) plan in affected areas to help manage the invasive pest in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly, and cost effective way.

  • Investing $206 million in The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to support food banks that supplement the diets of low-income and elderly Americans by providing them with emergency food and nutrition assistance.

  • Providing $417 million for the Food Insecurity Nutrition Program (FINI), increasing incentives to purchase healthy foods like fruits and vegetables.

  • Reauthorizing Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, Healthy Food Financing Initiative, and Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

  • Boosting funding by $34 million for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), that serves about 276 tribes.

  • Combating the opioid epidemic by investing in tele-medicine projects that provide substance use disorder treatment and direct loans and grants to develop community facilities aimed at prevention, treatment, and recovery. In Hawai‘i alone, there are roughly 490,000 active opioid prescriptions— affecting about one third of the state's population.

  • Improving water quality and soil health by encouraging farmers to plant cover crops, targeting infrastructure investments in small town water systems to protect drinking water, and funding the Small Watershed Program and Dam Rehab.

  • Reauthorizing the USDA’s Education Grants for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian serving institutions that provide grants to eligible Hawai‘i and Alaska educational institutions and individual Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native students with educational needs as they relate to food and agricultural sciences.

  • Prioritizing conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).   

  • Reauthorizing and providing mandatory funding for organic research and extension, including permanent, mandatory funding for organic research, making much-needed improvements to the organic certification process, and assistance for farmers transitioning to organic food production.

  • Funding for research and development for crop insurance on greenhouse crops, hops, industrial hemp, citrus, and Hawai‘i specialty crops including coffee, macadamia nuts, bananas, mangoes, avocados, and flowers.

  • Prioritizing funding for rural energy programs like the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses install renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency. The people of Hawai‘i pay some of the highest energy costs in the country.

 

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