VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Fight Invasive Species Across U.S.

November 4, 2015
Press Release
Washington, DC—Today Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) was joined by Reps. Chellie Pingree (ME-01), John Garamendi (CA-03), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), and Pedro Pierluisi (PR) in introducing the Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act (AIPM) of 2015 to support long-term and sustainable solutions to fighting invasive species.  The legislation will support farmers, ranchers, and land managers by reducing the impact of harmful invasive species on crops, livestock, and forest areas.  
 
In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard stated, “In Hawai'i, invasive species like the coffee berry borer, fruit flies, and macadamia nut felted coccid and others have cost our local farmers and agriculture industry millions in lost revenue. Across the United States, these pests, along with other invasive insects, diseases, and weeds, cause serious and harmful damage to our farmlands, agricultural production, food supply, environment, and public health. In Hawai'i, AIPMs have helped increase the number of commercial farms, and have helped local farmers increase their crop diversity, decrease the use of harmful pesticides, and manage the pests in a sustainable and cost-effective way. This legislation will help farmers, ranchers, and land managers all across the country reduce the impact of these harmful invasive species.”
 
“More and more parts of the country are confronting invasive species and the spread of tick-borne diseases. Just spraying more pesticides isn't the best answer and taking a thoughtful approach to an integrated pest management strategy makes a lot of sense,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree.
 
“The threat of invasive species is flying under the radar, but it’s time Congress paid more attention,” said Rep. John Garamendi. “Invasive species threaten our waterways, our agriculture, and our precious and fragile native ecosystems. The Areawide Integrated Pest Management Program Act will consolidate efforts to combat the threat of invasive species and other pests, and provide smarter and more efficient use of federal dollars.”
 
“Managing invasive species is a major problem for my constituents who are currently trying to combat the water hyacinth that has become overgrown in the Delta and damaging to the region’s economy and environment,” said Rep. Jerry McNerney. “The Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act of 2015 would help provide a more coordinated approach to managing pests and other invasive species that harm our habitats and disrupt local economies. It ensures efficient use of resources, offers more options for management projects, and incorporates the knowledge and needs of the stakeholders and experts on the ground in an effort to better contain invasive pest activity. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to curb all invasive species across regions, this legislation is a positive step forward aimed at protecting the health and safety of the environment.”
 
“I am proud to join Representative Gabbard in introducing this bill, which would institutionalize the concept of areawide integrated pest management, known as AIPM, at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture,” said Rep. Pedro Pierluisi. “Farmers and ranchers in Puerto Rico, like their counterparts in Hawai'i, face serious challenges from agricultural pests like the coffee berry borer, cattle ticks and the Mediterranean fruit fly, as well as from plant diseases like citrus greening.  Unless these problems are addressed in a thoughtful and comprehensive fashion, they can hinder economic growth, reduce employment, harm the environment and compromise food safety and public health.  The purpose of AIPMs is to enable stakeholders and researchers to form strategic partnerships to confront agricultural pests, using cutting-edge science to meet on-the-ground needs.”
 
“We applaud Congresswoman Gabbard’s support for long-term, sustainable solutions that will address large scale management of invasive species and other pests,” said Entomological Society of America President Dr. Phillip G. Mulder, Jr. “The AIPM Act of 2015 creates a committee of invasive species experts to oversee and develop critical priorities for areawide integrated pest management programs.  The Entomological Society of America appreciates Rep. Gabbard’s prioritization of programs and projects that address and implement AIPM efforts throughout the country.”   
 
“Areawide IPM is a proven concept for pest management with a successful track record for many weedy and invasive plants such as leafy spurge,” said Lee Van Wychen, Director of Science Policy for the Weed Science Society of America. “This legislation can help facilitate a coordinated research, education and extension outreach plan that is needed for reducing large-scale invasive weed problems like cheatgrass in the Western U.S.”
 
Background
The AIPM Program Act of 2015  1) Maximizes the efficient use of resources on AIPM projects when addressing pest management, 2) Protects the health and safety of humans and the environment through biocontrol applications, 3) Ensures AIPM projects are largely influenced by farmers, ranchers, and pest management experts most familiar with local needs with the assistance of federal agencies, universities, and private individuals important for specific projects, and 4) Ensures ongoing positive AIPM project outcomes by requiring a comprehensive business plan showing how the project will continue once federal funding ends.
 
The legislation is endorsed by the Entomological Society of America, National Farmers Union, Hawai'i Farmers Union United, and the Weed Science Society of America. 
 
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