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Farm bill addresses several Hawaii agricultural priorities

The farm bill passed by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday included several considerations for Hawaii farmers.

The bipartisan bill, which sets policy and funding levels for agriculture and nutrition programs until 2023, was overwhelmingly passed in the Senate, 87-13.

Among the programs included in the bill are a number of priorities for Hawaii agriculture, including the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative championed by Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono. That initiative would conduct research into combating the invasive macadamia felted coccid, a parasite that has been a lingering pest of the state’s macadamia industry for more than a decade.

Hirono, a Democrat, in conjunction with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also worked to include an amendment to provide up to $4 million in small grants for individuals, food banks, schools and other nonprofits to promote food security for communities throughout the state.

Also included in the bill are continuing education grants for institutions that serve Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native communities and several wider-scope provisions that affect Hawaii as well as the rest of the nation.

These provisions include protecting the benefits for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients, promoting the development of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, maintaining funding for conservation programs and renewing funding for rural energy programs.

The bill must now be voted on by the House of Representatives before it goes before the president to be signed into law.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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