We started our morning meeting with Representative Case’s welcoming staff as we did a tour of the Capitol. There was a special event in the visitor center commemorating the 400th year since the abolition of slavery. It made for a very exciting visit as we had many of the tour highlights to ourselves, and when we did run into others we saw the likes of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and representative Ilan Omar, among others.
Jon Tanouye and Representative Ed Case
We met with representative Case just after lunch to discuss some important agricultural issues such as invasive species prevention, expanding export markets as well as access to local markets, and the especially important discussion about the impact of the Jones Act on Hawaii agriculture. We were thankful to Representative Case and his staff for spending quite a bit of time with us, and especially for his thoughtful questions and hard work on legislation that supports Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers.
Our next meeting was in Senator Maize Hirono’s office with her Senior Policy Advisor Dr. Jen Burks. We had great discussion with Dr. Burks about some similar talking points we mentioned to Representative Case, many of which came from our ALP White Paper. Johnathan discussed the idea of making changes to the Plant Protection Act to support state inspections which could help prevent invasive species. I was excited to discuss my work on soil carbon sequestration and linking soil health to climate change resiliency. Our group also expressed an interest in streamlining the process to work with USDA inspectors that are needed when animals such as invasive axis deer are killed for the purpose of human consumption. We suggested the ideas of virtual inspections as well as compliance agreements as alternatives, which would save time, money and likely aid in the attempts to eradicate these very invasive animals on islands such as Molokai.
Our last visit of the day was with Senator Schatz and his staff. We discussed our backgrounds and most important messages we wanted to communicate with the senator while there. His staffer James spent a few hours with us, and not only listened to our concerns, but offered a very realistic picture of what Senator Schatz may be able to achieve for us. Senator Schatz was able to stop in and chat with us briefly as well, and we appreciated the face to face time we had. It was interesting to discuss the challenges Hawaii faces at the Senate level as such a small state, and left many of us looking forward to seeing how our senators can continue to make sure Hawaii’s voice is heard.
And of course we still found some time to goof around…
….and catch a beautiful first east coast sunset over the Potomac River…
And thanks to Sara, we finished our night taking a blurry selfie with my new favorite climate scientist Rafe Pomerance, who was one of the original scientists to bring attention to climate change in the 1970’s.