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Case, Kahele introduce cacao bill

WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. Kaiali‘i Kahele and Ed Case recently introduced H.R.7812: Floriculture and Nursery Health Initiative Act and H.R.7813: Cacao Tree Health Initiative Act.

The proposed federal legislation would authorize funding for research and development of tools to address current and emerging plant pest threats to the domestic cacao, floriculture and nursery industries.

In 2020, the floriculture and nursery industries generated more than $81 million in revenue on 2,324 acres, creating thousands of jobs throughout rural Hawai‘i.

Hawai‘i’s emerging cacao industry is rapidly expanding with more than 36,700 trees across 300 acres generating nearly $1.5 million a year in farm gate revenue.

“Diversifying Hawai‘i’s economy starts with protecting our existing agricultural commodities and opening the door to new competitive goods,” Kahele said.

“Distinctive Hawai‘i floral and nursery characteristics in turn will help our island growers build wealth and command premium prices in markets throughout the United States,” he said.

“When it comes to cacao, Hawai‘i has enormous growth potential as a global source in the industry. These bills support a comprehensive federal legislative package which will elevate Hawai‘i to compete in the world’s agricultural economy.”

Kahele previously joined other members of Hawai‘i’s Congressional delegation, Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and Case to introduce bicameral legislation to enable research funding to address all current and emerging threats to the U.S. coffee and macadamia nut industries.

The Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act and Macadamia Tree Health Initiative Amendments Act would remove existing restrictions on the limited scope of research and grant funding for the coffee plant and macadamia tree.

“We applaud the efforts of Rep. Kahele to help give our industry a much-needed boost,” said Wailua’s Will Lydgate, president of the Hawai‘i Chocolate and Cacao Association. “The United States is the most exciting new player in the cacao-growing and specialty-chocolate world. Here in Hawai‘i, chocolate is serious business.”
Source: The Garden Island

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