STAND. COM. REP. NO. 976
RE: H.B. No. 850
Honorable Donna Mercado Kim
President of the Senate
Twenty-Eighth State Legislature
Regular Session of 2015
State of Hawaii
Your Committees on Higher Education and the Arts and Agriculture, to which was referred H.B. No. 850, H.D. 1, entitled:
"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO THE AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICE,"
beg leave to report as follows:
The purpose and intent of this measure is to appropriate funds for critical positions in the Cooperative Extension Service administered by the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.
Your Committees received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Agriculture; University of Hawaii System; Hawaii Farm Bureau; Hawaii Farmers Union United; Hawaii Cattlemen's Council, Inc.; Maui County Farm Bureau; Land Use Research Foundation of Hawaii; Hawaii Island School Garden Network; Hawaii Land Restoration Institute; and four individuals.
Your Committees find that extension agents play a critical role in providing education and on-the-ground outreach to farmers and ranchers statewide. Extension agents also serve as a key resource to help farmers to contain pest issues and provide practical applications for research being conducted at the University of Hawaii.
Your Committees also find that the extension faculty workforce in the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources has decreased significantly over the past twenty years, and in particular, over the past six years. This decreased faculty workforce has occurred as a result of typical retirements and resignations. However, the unique and strained budgeting system, upon which the Cooperative Extension Service is entirely dependent, has prevented the filling of many vacant positions.
Your Committees further find that the Legislature and the people of Hawaii are experiencing an increasing sense of urgency to ensure the continued food security of the State. Food security encompasses a wide range of policies and safeguards, including accelerated training to assist new farmers on safety measures and general farming practices aimed toward decreasing the need for expensive food importation. Extension agents that are deliberately and adequately dispersed throughout the islands provide an increased likelihood of reaching food security and sustainable agricultural practices statewide. This measure would fill immediate needs and provide the time needed to work on including extension functions in budget models currently under development by the University of Hawaii.
Your Committees have amended this measure by:
(1) Inserting language appropriating funds for the hiring of one full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) organic agriculture agent in Hawaii County, rather than in the County of Maui;
(2) Inserting language appropriating funds for the hiring of one full-time equivalent (1.0 FTE) farm food safety agent in the County of Maui, rather than in Hawaii County; and
(3) Changing the effective date to July 1, 2015.
As affirmed by the records of votes of the members of your Committees on Higher Education and the Arts and Agriculture that are attached to this report, your Committees are in accord with the intent and purpose of H.B. No. 850, H.D. 1, as amended herein, and recommend that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as H.B. No. 850, H.D. 1, S.D. 1, and be referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.
Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committees on Higher Education and the Arts and Agriculture,
RUSSELL E. RUDERMAN, Chair
BRIAN T. TANIGUCHI, Chair