Hawai'i State News

In first, Hawaiʻi delegation goes to Washington for USDA support

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Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke gives remarks during USDA’s observance of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander History Month Celebration and the first-ever State of Hawai’i delegation visit to USDA on May 15 in Washington. Photo Courtesy: United States Department of Agriculture

In partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture, Hawaiʻi Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke and Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture Chairperson Sharon Hurd led 30 agricultural leaders in a first-ever Hawaiʻi delegation to the USDA.

The delegation included state legislators, Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau, Hawai‘i Cattlemen’s Council, Hawai‘i Crop Improvement Association, Hawai‘i Floriculture and Nursery Association, and Synergistic Hawai‘i Agricultural Council, farmers, ranchers and advocates.

Their visit to Washington from May 14-15 aimed to strengthen the relationship between Hawaiʻi’s local agriculture industry and the USDA.


Lt. Gov. Luke, who led the inaugural delegation to the nation’s capital, said, “This visit was an important convening to maximize USDA resources, identify opportunities for federal grants and funding, and exchange information about our agricultural landscape to the top level of the USDA.”

She continued, “The conversations between our local agriculture community and USDA officials, engaging with their agencies, and conveying the essential role of our agricultural community in ensuring Hawaiʻi’s food security and sustainability.”

The delegation identified several key policy priorities, including Rural Development and Agriculture Infrastructure Funding, Protecting Hawaiʻi’s Iconic Agricultural Brand, Grant Funding, and Biosecurity and Enforcement.


“This is a historic moment for Hawaiʻi agriculture,” said Brian Miyamoto, Executive Director of Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau. “In my 19 years with the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau, I have never witnessed such a momentous occasion as our farmers, ranchers, and industry stakeholders met with all the USDA agencies in Washington D.C. This unprecedented event heralds a new era of opportunity and collaboration for Hawai‘i’s agriculture.”

In addition to numerous meetings with under secretaries, assistant secretaries and other USDA leaders, the delegation had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

“USDA was honored to welcome the Hawaiʻi delegation to the Whitten Building to celebrate the diverse and essential contributions of Hawaiʻi agriculture and discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by the state’s producers and rural communities,” said USDA Secretary Vilsack. “USDA is committed to supporting these producers in doing what they love most — farming the land and helping to produce the food, fuel, and fiber that feeds, shelters, and powers our nation and the world. Through our ongoing work to increase economic opportunities and revenue streams for producers and build prosperity in Hawaiʻi and across the country, we will continue to do so.”


The delegation also participated in a panel discussion titled “Uniqueness of Hawaiʻi Agriculture,” focused on understanding Hawaiʻi’s specific challenges and opportunities. The visit concluded with a Hawaiʻi Agriculture Showcase at the USDA Whitten Patio on the National Mall where local farmers, ranchers, and producers had the opportunity to present their products and share personal stories of their agriculture experiences in Hawaiʻi.

“The Hawaiʻi State Constitution says the Department of Agriculture shall conserve and protect Agricultural Lands,” said Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture Chairperson Sharon Hurd. “Meeting with the USDA was so valuable to relay that message and find partnerships to move Hawaiʻi agriculture forward.”

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