East Hawaii News

Hawaii Farm Bureau Honors Onishi for Agriculture Advocacy

November 27, 2013, 10:23 AM HST
* Updated November 27, 3:19 PM
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The Hawaii Farm Bureau has named state Rep. Richard Onishi its 2013 Legislator of the Year in the state House of Representatives.

The freshman Democrat, who represents District 3 comprised of Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown and Volcano, serves on a variety of House committees including as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee.

The statewide farm bureau bestows the honor on state lawmakers who demonstrate excellence in leadership and initiatives to advance the interests of Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers, the House said in a statement.

Rep. Richard Onishi. House photo.

Rep. Richard Onishi. House photo.

“Among his priorities is the development of agriculture on Hawaii Island with efforts focused on securing funding sources, increasing opportunities for the industry, making it more available and competitive,” the statement said.

The recipient of the award is selected by a committee comprised of all Hawaii Farm Bureau chapters representing agricultural stakeholders statewide.

Onishi was recognized by the bureau for his efforts on legislation to improve agriculture in the state and especially on Hawaii Island.

This past session, his notable contributions included support of a variety of appropriations including $800,000 to combat the coffee berry borer infestation, $1.5 million for agricultural livestock feed subsidies, $1.75 million for the new farmer and bio-security loan programs, and $600,000 for a bio-digester to convert food waste to livestock feed.

“Additionally, he has supported $75,000 annual appropriations for two youth education initiatives, the Department of Education’s Future Farmers of America Program and the University of Hawaii’s 4-H Program, programs that support the development of Hawaii’s youth in the field of agriculture,” the statement said.

“I am extremely honored to have been selected as this year’s awardee — especially in my first year in office,” Onishi said. “I appreciate the recognition of my colleagues in the agriculture industry and will continue working towards the development and cultivation of our essential agriculture industry.”

Inishi sponsored or co-sponsored 19 bills related to agriculture.

He was also among 30 primary sponsors of a resolution adopted by the House urging the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to monitor and require labeling of all products containing genetically modified foods.

Sen. Clarence Nishihara. Senate photo.

Sen. Clarence Nishihara. Senate photo.

The farm bureau also singles out a lawmaker on the Senate side. This year, Sen. Clarence Nishihara was the awardee for his work as the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture.

Nishihara represents District 17 on Oahu which consists of Waipahu, Crestview, Manana, Pearl City and Pacific Palisades.

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