January 29, 2014

HIRONO APPLAUDS MEASURE TO FIGHT COFFEE BERRY BORER IN FARM BILL

Bill Also Includes Measures To Support Local Growers, Sustainable Farming And Biofuels

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced that the 2014 Farm Bill includes a measure to fight the coffee berry borer that has been ravaging Hawaii Island coffee farms for almost three years. The bill was passed by the House today and is expected to receive a vote in the Senate this week. Hirono had worked with Senate and House Agriculture committees to include language that lays the groundwork for a long-term federal investment to fight the borer. Hawaii Island coffee growers praised Hirono’s work to secure an initial $1 million from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) last July to help set up the program, which is being managed by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) in Hilo.

“The inclusion of my amendment to fight the coffee berry borer in the bipartisan Farm Bill is great news for Hawaii and our economy,” said Hirono. “I’ve spoken with farmers concerned about how this invasive species will hurt their crops and our economy -- it’s crucial we mount a concerted effort to protect our coffee plants. This amendment will help USDA, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the University of Hawaii work collectively and efficiently to help coffee farmers combat and contain the coffee berry borer.”

“Through ARS' Areawide Pest Management Program, scientists at the U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center and our partners have been able to develop integrated, biologically based control measures for coffee berry borer,” said Dr. Marisa Wall, PBARC Acting Director. “This program enables us to optimize biological control methods, improve pest detection and mass trapping technology, manage coffee flowering and fruiting cycles, and provide outreach to growers in an areawide system for CBB control.”

“I am also pleased that this bill helps promote sustainable, local agriculture – from investments that help family farmers sell locally to supporting beginning farmers with training and access to capital,” added Hirono. “This bill was a bipartisan compromise and I am hopeful that my colleagues and I can continue to work together to help the people of Hawaii and the nation.”

Additionally, the bill strengthens top priorities that help famers in Hawaii and the nation. The bill:

  • Reauthorizes $10 million per year through 2018 for Education Grants to Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions.
  • Extends authorization for rural housing and general economic assistance to parts of Hawaii including: Ewa Beach, Ewa Gentry, Kapolei, Makakilo, Nanakuli, Royal Kunia, and Waianae on Oahu; Hilo on Hawaii Island; and Kihei on Maui.
  • Extends the Livestock Forage Program and Livestock Indemnity Program to provide a safety net to Hawaii farmers affected by drought or other adverse weather.
  • Extends the loan programs for sugar cane for five years.
  • Authorizes $375 million over five years for Specialty Crop Block Grants.
  • Continues investments to meet growing consumer demand for fresh fruits and vegetables, local foods and organics by helping family farmers sell locally, increasing support for farmers’ markets, and connecting farmers to schools and other community-based organizations.
  • Authorizes nearly $1.4 billion over five years for bioenergy research and development programs, including the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Bioenergy Program for Advanced Fuels, Biodiesel Fuel Education Program, and Rural Energy for America (REAP) Program.
  • Extends the authorization for rural water programs, including Rural Water and Wastewater Circuit Rider Program, Rural Water and Waste Disposal Infrastructure program, and Household Water Well Systems program.

Hirono visited Greenwell Farms last July to speak with farmers and see the damage caused by the coffee berry borer.