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US Rep. Gabbard Introduces Bill To Protect Hawai‘i’s Vital Ecosystems from Invasive Species

Coffee leaf rust is one of the many invasive species that wreaks havoc on agriculture in Hawaiʻi. PC: Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture

US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced the Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act, H.R.8887, which would create a framework within the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Crop and Pest Management Program to support farmers, ranchers and land managers in pursuit of long-term and sustainable solutions to fighting invasive species.

“Invasive species are a challenge faced by states across this country, but none more so than in Hawai‘i, where our unique and delicate environment and economy can be ravaged by these pests,” Rep. Gabbard said. “This bill will help protect our farms and public lands, which are vital to growing food to feed our families; protecting public forests; and strengthening the agriculture sector of our economy.

“Invasive species require an all-hands community response. My bill will help harness community awareness, expertise and resources required to monitor and rapidly prevent and suppress infestations that threaten our crops, agriculture and forests.”

In Hawaiʻi, invasive species, including the two-lined spittlebug, coffee berry borer, coffee leaf rust, little fire ant, fruit flies, and macadamia felted coccid and others cost our local farmers and agriculture industry millions in lost revenue every year, threaten Hawai‘i’s unique ecosystems, agriculture and waterways, as well as the food supply and public health.

Background: The Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act creates a framework within the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Crop and Pest Management Program to:

  • Implement a carefully managed program to foster best practices in cooperation with local grower and regulator groups
  • Empower end-users – farmers, ranchers, dairymen and land managers – to take a larger role in creating solutions for their agricultural businesses and industries
  • Increase the return on investments for farmers, ranchers, dairymen and land managers by providing them with multiple invasive species management options
  • Support long-term and sustainable solutions to reduce invasive species impacts on agriculture, including grazing, dairy farming and natural resources
  • Support improved use of federal dollars through competition to control and/or eradicate invasive species
  • Protect human health and the environment

Rep. Gabbard has been a leader in Congress on combating invasive species and fighting for sustainable agriculture, according to a news release. She successfully included the Coffee Plant Health Initiative (CPHI) and Macadamia Tree Health Initiative (MTHI) in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills. The CPHI and MTHI authorized research and extension grants to develop ways to combat the coffee berry borer and the macadamia felted coccid. Implementation of both initiatives are being carried out by scientists in Hawai‘i. She also introduced the Spittlebug Act, which is modeled after the CPHI and MTHI.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2020/12/10/us-rep-gabbard-introduces-bill-to-protect-hawaiis-vital-ecosystems-from-invasive-species/

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