December 13, 2016

Hirono announces more than $3 million in federal funding to fight invasive species

Will fund fight against Rapid Ohia Death, coffee berry borer, other invasive species

Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that federal, state, and academic organizations in Hawaii will receive nearly $3.1 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding to fight invasive specie­­s, which will address threats facing Hawaii’s environment and farmers, including Rapid Ohia Death, the coffee berry borer, the coconut rhinoceros beetle, and the little fire ant. The funding will also support agriculture pre-clearance inspections at airports.

“Hawaii is on the front line in addressing invasive pests, and early detection is critical to protecting our agriculture and environment,” said Senator Hirono. “This funding will advance critical programs that help farmers and land managers address invasive species, as well efforts to keep these pests from spreading to other communities.”

“The University of Hawaii is very pleased to hear that a new project has been funded through USDA-APHIS on the management of the coffee berry borer in Hawaii and Puerto Rico,” said Raymond Carruthers, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Extension Agent. “The main thrust of this effect will be to coordinate control efforts with on-going Federal, State and local projects on CBB management, along with the additional development of new insect biological control technologies. We feel that developing, testing and the eventual use of insect parasitoids will be a key for long-term sustainable management of the CBB in both Hawaii and Puerto Rico.”

“DLNR is very appreciative of the assistance from USDA APHIS through Farm Bill funding to contain the fungus causing Rapid Ohia Death on Hawaii Island. State, federal, private, and community efforts are all needed to deal with this urgent issue,” said Robert Hauff, State Protection Forester, Division of Forestry & Wildlife, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Earlier this year Senator Hirono wrote directly to USDA in support of this funding, which will be divided amongst USDA research efforts in Hawaii, the University of Hawaii, Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture. In 2015, Senator Hirono and USDA Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden met with Hawaii Island farmers, where they saw firsthand the lasting impact that invasive species such as the coffee berry borer have on Hawaii’s coffee crops.