Hawaii Department of Agriculture Appreciates Landmark Support from Hawaii State Legislature

Posted on Apr 26, 2024 in Main

April 26, 2024

HONOLULU – The Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has received unprecedented support from the Hawai‘i State Legislature in the form of H.B. 2619, which boosts the department’s biosecurity programs that prevent invasive pests from entering the state and helps to control and eradicate pests that threaten Hawai‘i’s agriculture and environment. The bill, which appropriates almost $20 million, was passed by a legislative conference committee late yesterday after extensive discussion and consideration. The bill awaits a final vote by the Senate and House of Representatives.

“This is landmark legislation in the fight against invasive species,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. “The pests that we are dealing with now are having a devastating impact across the state and with this legislative support, we can do better in protecting our ʻāina, agriculture and our way of life.”

Under the bill, the legislature clearly designates the HDOA as the lead agency in coordinating the state’s biosecurity efforts and authorizes the department to execute agreements with partner agencies and private organizations. The bill provides HDOA an additional 44 positions, including 22 inspector positions in the Plant Quarantine Branch.

“Everyone can agree that the management of the biosecurity programs needs improvement and we cannot thank our state legislators enough for their concern and hard work on this bill,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture. “With one department directing the various programs, there will be better coordination, transparency and accountability.

“HDOA is revitalized with the trust that the legislature has placed in us and our staff is committed to making stronger headway in the prevention and management of invasive species,” Hurd added. “The cooperation between our partner agencies and organizations remains extremely important as we all have the common goal to protect Hawai‘i.”

The measure also pays homage to the late State Representative Clift Tsuji, who championed funding for the HDOA and the state’s biosecurity program through what became known as the “Clift Tsuji Act.”

HB 2619 earmarks funding as follows:

44 additional positions $3,180,660
Risk Assessments $1,000,000
Pest Management Systems Approach $1,200,000
Brown Tree Snake Rapid Response $1,100,000
Pest Diagnostics $500,000
Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Response $1,500,000
Green Waste $1,000,000
Compost Reimbursement $500,000
Public Awareness Campaign $2,000,000
Little Fire Ants Response $2,500,000
Coqui Frog Response $100,000
Invasive Species Outreach $100,000
Tech Upgrades $2,000,000
Import Replacement Fund $500,000
Biosecurity Facility Planning $1,500,000
Rose-ringed Parakeet Control $300,000
Two-lined Spittlebug Control $800,000
Feral Chicken Control $200,000
TOTAL $19,980,660

Other provisions of the bill:

  • Requires HDOA increase transparency by posting real-time updates with pest infestation data including date, location, activities performed, including the names of staff and organizations involved;
  • Requires all pest control activities be reported in advance to HDOA’s Pesticides Branch and authorizes pesticide inspectors to perform inspections to ensure compliance with pesticide regulations; and
  • Includes funding for programs that increase local food production to lessen the risk of imported pests.