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Appropriations Committee Approves Funding To Protect Hawai‘i Coffee Farmers, Support Neighbor Island Tourism

Schatz Worked To Include Nearly $3 Million to Maintain Agriculture Research Facilities

WASHINGTON – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2019. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) worked to include nearly $3 million to protect Hawai‘i coffee and maintain agriculture research facilities in Hilo. The bill also includes more than $32 million to support agricultural inspection stations like those at neighbor island airports, making it easier for travelers to move through the agricultural inspections process.

“I’m glad that we were able to pass a bill that supports coffee farmers and protects hundreds of local jobs that depend on coffee production in Hawai‘i,” said Senator Schatz, a member of the Appropriations Committee. “This bill also funds agricultural inspection stations at our neighbor island airports. These stations save visitors the hassle of rechecking their bags in Honolulu before heading home and give residents and tourists a seamless travel experience.”

Key funding in the agriculture appropriations bill sought by Senator Schatz includes:

  • $32.3 million for airport agricultural inspections. In Hawai‘i, this program helps to fund federal agricultural inspectors at airports on Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and Hawai‘i Island. It is critical to conduct inspections at the neighbor island airports so that passengers can directly connect to flights to the mainland.
  • $1.9 million to maintain research collection of coffee seeds and plants at the USDA Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo. The funding will be used to maintain a bank of known varieties of coffee seeds and plants for research and development of new strains of coffee for desirable traits like flavor or pest resistance.
  • $1 million to study and combat invasive insects, including fruit flies, coffee berry borers, and felted macadamia nut coccids. This funding provides resources for an insectary at the U.S. Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo. Researchers will use the insectary to learn more about destructive insects that threaten local agriculture and develop new ways for Hawai‘i farmer’s to protect their crops.