Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Farm Bill That Hurts Hawai‘i Farmers, Local Agriculture

June 21, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today voted against partisan legislation that endangers family farmers and ranchers, food security, conservation efforts, rural communities, and millions of people in Hawai‘i and across the country whose jobs directly depend on the agriculture industry. The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (H.R. 2), known as the Farm Bill, would provide disproportionate benefit to large agribusinesses, investment banks, and Wall Street, while undermining family farmers and rural agriculture development. The legislation passed today by a vote of 213-211.  

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“Passing a strong bipartisan Farm Bill is a great opportunity to better the lives of working families, empower millions of local farmers, and strengthen agricultural opportunities nationwide. Instead, Republicans spent months crafting a one-sided, corporate-backed bill behind closed doors that stacks the deck against Americans most in need.

“The Farm Bill rewards mega-agribusinesses and Wall Street, while slashing funding for nutrition, rural agriculture development, and clean energy programs, cutting key agricultural research and development efforts critically needed to help fight invasive species like the coffee berry borer, macadamia felted coccid, and more. It would cut the budget for food stamps, that nearly 170,000 Hawai‘i residents depend on, by over $23 billion, putting our low-income keiki, kūpuna, and working families at risk.

According to a 2017 report, Hawai‘i needs an estimated $1.05 billion in drinking water investment over the next twenty years to ensure safe water for our people. This farm bill would fail to address water and wastewater infrastructure needs in rural communities across the country.

“Once again, Congress has passed legislation that puts corporate profits before the wellbeing of the American people. We must work towards real reform that strengthens our food security, supports our farmers, protects our country’s health and safety, and preserves our environment for generations to come.”

Vincent Mina, President of Hawaii Farmers Union United, said: “This Farm Bill was a missed opportunity to provide Hawai‘i farmers with the support and tools they need just to get by during these uncertain economic times. Instead, this bill rewards agribusinesses, corporations and the top 1 percent and undermines numerous programs to mitigate invasive species, eliminates the Organic cost share and conservation stewardship program (CSP) where farmers earn payments for actively managing, maintaining, and expanding conservation activities like cover crops, rotational grazing, ecologically-based pest management, buffer strips, empowering them to transition to organic farming while protecting our environment.”

Harmful Provisions for Hawai‘i in the Farm Bill include:

  • Slashing over $23 billion from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, 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, 169,000 residents of Hawai‘i or about 12 percent of the state population received SNAP benefits
  • Weakening the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other environmental laws that threaten efforts to reduce pesticides for weed control, actions to increase populations of endangered species, and Hawai‘i’s recent ban on Chlorpyrifos. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has cosponsored the Pesticide Protection Act of 2017 (H.R. 3380) to re-ban Chlorpyrifos (CPY), a dangerous pesticide that has been linked to damaging and often irreversible health outcomes in workers, pregnant women, and children
  • Cutting $795 million from the conservation title by essentially eliminating the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest working lands conservation program, by merging it with the Environmental Quality Incentives Program
  • Eliminating important crop insurance and risk management education efforts including the Risk Management Education Partnership program, which helps educate farmers on mitigating production, financial, and other risks on their farms
  • Slashing rural development funding by $517 million, threatening Hawai‘i’s rural communities that rely on business and community development programs
  • Failing to modernize rural water and wastewater systems and neglects providing adequate funding to address a backlog of repair and maintenance of existing water and wastewater systems – threatening Hawai‘i’s State law to upgrade cesspools to septic tanks by 2050. Hawai‘i has more cesspools than any other state -- half of which are located in areas that require urgent action. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has introduced the WATER Act (H.R. 5609) to upgrade and protect community water and sewer systems across the country
  • Falling short of adequate funding for supporting specialty crops (coffee, macadamia nuts, bananas, mangoes, avocados, and flowers) and for environmentally friendly integrated pest management and biological tools to eradicate and control invasive species
  • Opening the door for the EPA to approve pesticide usage and circumventing the current consultation process with expert wildlife agencies, threatening Hawai‘i’s pollinator industry and other critical sectors

Dozens of labor, consumer, health, safety, environmental, and farm organizations that represent millions of Americans have announced opposition to the Farm Bill including the National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Environmental Working Group, National Young Farmers Coalition, AARP, Alliance for Retired Americans, Children’s Defense Fund, Feeding America, Meals on Wheels America, MomsRising, NAACP, National Consumers League, National Council on Aging, National PTA, National Urban League, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, YWCA USA, and many more.

 

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