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House Appropriations Committee Passes Fiscal Year 2021 Agriculture and Rural Development Funding Bill

The Measure Includes Funding for Hawai‘i-Specific Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Broadband Requested by Committee Member Case

Washington, July 9, 2020

(Honolulu, HI) – Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) announced House Appropriations Committee passage today of its recommended $153 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Funding Bill.

The measure, which now goes to the full House for final approval, includes Case’s requests for Hawai‘i-related funding of tropical and subtropical agriculture and aquaculture, food security, rural broadband development and invasive species prevention, as well as a direction to update the costs of producing school lunches toward a fair federal cost share.

“Agriculture remains a major driver of our local economy, and it is even more important that we support it right through COVID-19’s devastating effect especially on tourism as a critical economic and employment foundation,” said Case. “COVID-19 has also reminded us in spades of the need to ensure that Hawai‘i – because of our relative isolation in the middle of the Pacific -  has access to locally-grown food to ensure no disruptions in supply chains.

“Rural development is also critical, and most important here is ensuring broadband connectivity which, as we’ve also seen in COVID-19, is essential to effective tele-health, remote learning and working from home. The importance of maintaining and funding a full school lunch program, especially for so many families in need, has also been reinforced.”

Case serves on the House Committee on Appropriations, which is responsible for allocating federal funds to government agencies, departments and organizations on an annual basis. Each year the Committee prepares for full House consideration twelve separate appropriations measures which together total some $1.4 trillion in federal spending.

Provisions Case secured in the FY21 Agriculture/Rural Development measure of special interest to Hawai‘i include:

  • Report language directing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update its 1979 calculation of school nutrition assistance program reimbursement rates in Hawai‘i to actually reflect today’s cost of producing a school lunch and breakfast.
  • $5,000,000 for the Micro-Grants for Food Security program, which provides grants to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food through small-scale gardening, herding and livestock operations in food insecure communities in Hawai‘i.
  • A $5,000,000 increase to expand USDA’s canine program, which plays a critical role in invasive species and disease detection.
  • A $740,000 increase in funding for USDA’s Agriculture Quarantine Inspections, which is vital to preventing the spread of invasive pests and diseases.
  • Report language coordinating federal agencies and resources to combat invasive species such as the avocado lace bug, spittlebug and Queensland longhorn beetle.
  • Report language promoting tropical and subtropical, floriculture and coffee agricultural research.
  • A study examining USDA’s outreach and recruitment activities to Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander farmers and a list of available required resources in additional Asian and Pacific Islander languages.

The bill’s $153 billion in overall federal spending also include:

  • $100 billion in food and nutrition programs for women, infants and children (WIC), targeted child nutrition and supplemental nutrition assistance (SNAP).
  • $3.3 billion for agricultural research.
  • $4.2 billion for rural development and infrastructure including $1 billion for rural broadband.

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