HAWAII TO RECEIVE $2.07 MILLION TO COMBAT INVASIVE SPECIES AND PLANT DISEASE

HONOLULU—Hawaii will receive $2.07 million to help prevent the spread of plant disease, pests, and other invasive species, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Representative Mazie K. Hirono and U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa announced today.

The money comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and will be used to pay for 11 projects in Hawaii.

These projects will strengthen protections against agricultural threats by specifically targeting honey bee pests, including Africanized bee, Asian honey bee, and varroa mites; developing a fruit fly DNA resource library and diagnostic tools to improve identification of exotic species; and enhancing honey bee pest mitigation capabilities.

“Our agricultural industry is a critical component of our economy and lifestyle in Hawaii. These funds will help protect farmers’ produce by combating the pests and invasive species that pose a significant threat to our livelihood and to our delicate ecosystem.  I would like to thank the administration for supporting Hawaii’s sustainability and food security initiatives,” said Senator Inouye.

"This funding supports critical efforts to stop invasive pests from reaching our islands by increasing port inspections and using technology. It would also help species that are already being affected such as our honey bees," said Senator Akaka.

 “Mahalo to the USDA for supporting 11 projects in Hawaii. Our island crops are constantly at risk from diseases and pests. It’s funding like this -- which addresses issues such as fruit fly eradication and the protection of the honeybees that pollinate our fruits, vegetables, and macadamia nut trees -- that can support and protect the farmers in my rural district.  As our island state moves closer to greater agricultural self-sufficiency, we need to redouble our efforts to prevent the entry of these agricultural threats to Hawaii,” said Congresswoman Hirono.

“I want to thank Secretary Vilsack and the Department of Agriculture for helping not only to support Hawaii agriculture, but also help us preserve endangered indigenous plants. While our lush flora is a special benefit of living in our state, we also face the challenge of a contained and fragile ecosystem. Invasive species add to that challenge. I hope these funds will allow the state to make up for some of the recent reductions in inspection, and place Hawaii in a position to more fully protect our natural resources," said Congresswoman Hanabusa.

APHIS will offer $50 million in funding to implement 321 projects in all 50 states, plus American Samoa and Guam. 

The FY 2012 funding plan, list of selected projects, and general feedback are posted at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/section10201

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