STAND. COM. REP. NO. 63

 

Honolulu, Hawaii

 

RE: S.B. No. 337

S.D. 1

 

 

 

Honorable Ronald D. Kouchi

President of the Senate

Thirty-First State Legislature

Regular Session of 2021

State of Hawaii

 

Sir:

 

Your Committee on Agriculture and Environment, to which was referred S.B. No. 337 entitled:

 

"A BILL FOR AN ACT RELATING TO SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE,"

 

begs leave to report as follows:

 

The purpose and intent of this measure is to establish and appropriate monies for a crop reimbursement pilot program to reimburse farming operations in the State for the costs of acquiring cover crop seeds or green manure.

 

Your Committee received testimony in support of this measure from the Department of Agriculture, University of Hawaii System, Kauai Climate Action Coalition, Ka Ohana O Na Pua, Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, Our Revolution Hawaii, Hawaii Farmers Union United Kona Chapter, Pesticide Action Network North America, Hawaii Farm Bureau, Hawaii SEED, Supersistence, Rooted Kekahi Me Ka Aina, and sixty-eight individuals.

 

Your Committee finds that the use of cover crops and green manure increases agricultural productivity and aligns with the State's integrated sustainability goals. Plants used for this purpose, including grasses, legumes, and forbs, add nutrients to the soil, act as windbreaks, assist with water retention, provide habitats for beneficial insects, and help to prevent soil erosion. This measure incentivizes the use of management practices that enhance the quality and sustainability of Hawaii's agricultural lands.

 

Your Committee has amended this measure by:

 

(1) Decreasing the reimbursement percentage incurred for cover crop seeds or green manure from one hundred percent to seventy-five percent to be consistent with past reimbursement programs and to reflect the finding that reimbursement programs are beneficial to the State when the farmer has an investment of time, money, and effort in the program's results;

 

(2) Providing that applicants be screened and rated on the quality of their cover crop and green manure practices by a review panel comprising of representatives from the Department of Agriculture, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and industry organizations; and

 

(3) Making technical, nonsubstantive amendments for the purposes of clarity and consistency.

 

As affirmed by the record of votes of the members of your Committee on Agriculture and Environment that is attached to this report, your Committee is in accord with the intent and purpose of S.B. No. 337, as amended herein, and recommends that it pass Second Reading in the form attached hereto as S.B. No. 337, S.D. 1, and be referred to your Committee on Ways and Means.

 

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the members of the Committee on Agriculture and Environment,

 

 

 

________________________________

MIKE GABBARD, Chair