Senate Committee Approves Appropriations Bill with Key Funding to Support Neighbor Island Tourism at Hawai‘i Airports

Legislation Also Includes Funding Requested by Senator Schatz for Food Safety and Invasive Species Control

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed the agriculture appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016.  U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, worked to increase funding by $1 million for agricultural inspection stations like those at neighbor island airports, making it easier for travelers to move through the agricultural inspections process.

“Without agricultural inspection stations at our neighbor island airports, tourists would be forced to claim the bags in Honolulu, get them inspected, and then recheck them before boarding their flights home,” said Senator Schatz.  “This funding makes it easier to ensure visitors and residents alike have a better experience traveling through our airports.”

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

$27.9 million for Airport Agricultural Inspections. In Hawai‘i, this program funds 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.

$45 million increase for food safety.  Recent listeriosis outbreaks caused by contaminated vegetables has shown that there is still much to be done to protect our nation’s food supply.  That is why Congress passed the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  This funding would help implement FSMA so that the food in our supermarkets is safe, while at the same time helping local farmers and food manufacturers understand and comply with the new requirements.

$92 million to Combat Invasive Species, including Brown Tree Snake control. This funding, which the Appropriations Committee increased by $2 million this year, provides resources for the Wildlife Service Program in Hawai‘i, Guam, and the Pacific Islands for the protection of agriculture, public and private property, natural resources, and human health and safety posed by wildlife, including invasive species and feral animals. A key part of the operations program is to prevent movement of Brown Tree Snakes from Guam to Hawai‘i and the U.S. mainland.