First-Ever Hawaiʻi Delegation Advocates for Agricultural Support at the United States Department of Agriculture

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 Hawaii’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.”

(Courtesy United States Department of Agriculture)
(Courtesy Office of the Lieutenant Governor)

2024 Hawaiʻi-USDA Policy Summit Attendees
Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke
Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture Chairperson Sharon Hurd
Senator Tim Richards
Senator Lynn DeCoite
Senator Dru Mamo Kanuha
Representative Kirstin Kahaloa
University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources
Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau
Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council
Hawaii Crop Improvement Association
Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association
Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association
Synergistic Hawaii Agricultural Council
Bayer Hawaiʻi
Hartung Brothers
Kapāpala Ranch
Mahi Pono
Maui Gold Pineapple
Matson, Inc.
Kamehameha Schools
Oahu Agriculture and Conservation Association
USDA – Farm Service Agency Hawaiʻi State Director
USDA – Rural Development Hawaiʻi State Director

Uniqueness of Hawaiʻi Panel Participants
Joy Kono, Hawaiʻi State Executive Director, USDA Farm Service Agency
Lynn DeCoite, Hawaiʻi State Senator, State of Hawaiʻi
Tim Richards, Hawaiʻi State Senator, State of Hawaiʻi
Darren Strand, President, Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau Foundation
Alan Takemoto, Government and Community Relations Lead, Bayer
Eric Tanouye, President, Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association