Hawaii congresswoman introduces bills combatting invasive species attacking coffee, macadamia tree and nursery plants
WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Most of us cannot start our days without it. However, lawmakers on Capitol Hill say the crops producing our morning cup of coffee are in trouble. And a bipartisan effort is brewing in Washington to save our sip.
“When it comes to brands and crops that Hawaii is known for, definitely coffee ranks right up high there,” said Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii).
Tokuda said as much as everyone likes to drink it, farmers in the Aloha State say it is becoming more of a challenge to perk up production.
“In terms of the invasive species and pests out there. (And) Just the overall cost of doing business,” Tokuda said.
And it is not just coffee. Tokuda said macadamia tree and nursery plants and flowers are at risk too. So, she and a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a slew of bills to neutralize these nuisances.
“With all the threats that we’re seeing, we want to make sure we really support our producers that are really adding to our economy. And quite frankly, helping to define us and what we grow and what we’re known for around the world,” said Tokuda.
Meanwhile Adam Andrzejewski with the government watchdog OpenTheBooks.com argues these are Hawaii’s problems.
“Local projects of merit should be funded locally,” said Andrzejewski. “Hawaii’s not really an agriculture state. We took a look at Hawaii as ranked against the 50 states in the production of agriculture and 99.9% of all agriculture in the country doesn’t originate in Hawaii.”
Andrzejewski also said the American people are already paying for these initiatives through earmarks secured for coffee and macadamia nut research by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) at the end of last year.
“Those two earmarks totaled $2.2 million at taxpayer cost,” Andrzejewski said.
To be clear, there are three separate bills but only the coffee legislation is receiving bipartisan support. Tokuda’s office said the goal is to have these bills folded into Congress’ five-year agricultural spending plan known as the “Farm Bill” that is up for reauthorization this year.
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