Friday, January 30, 2015


Your testimony needed for a bill to promote sustainable agriculture in Hawaii

by Larry Geller

SB593 was described by Kauai city councilmember and former legislator Gary Hooser as a potential “game changer” for food self-sufficiency in Hawaii. The bill is scheduled for a hearing on Monday—so your testimony is needed right away. It’s easy to send something in via the bill’s web page.

If the bill doesn’t get mauled in the legislative sausage machine, it well could be the start of something good. Instead of just talking about sustainable agriculture, this could be a first step to getting there one day.

The bill begins:

The legislature finds that the State of Hawaii imports approximately 90 per cent of its food and is vulnerable to potential shipping and other disruptions. The people of Hawaii have repeatedly shown over the years that sustainable agriculture and local production are priorities that they support and value.

The legislature also finds that the agribusiness development corporation manages over 20,000 acres of public agricultural lands and has the significant potential of shaping the State's agricultural public policy toward the goal of supporting sustainable agriculture and food self-sufficiency. The lack of affordable agricultural land with long-term leases is often cited as a key inhibitor of the growth and expansion of local agriculture. Therefore it is in the public's' best interest, and vital to achieving an increased level of food security, that the agribusiness development corporation make the support of sustainable agriculture and food security its top priority and immediately develop and implement a plan to accomplish this goal.

The agribusiness development corporation shall establish as its primary mission supporting and increasing sustainable agriculture and local food production in a manner that contributes to the health of Hawaii residents, protects the natural environment, enhances soil and water quality, and preserves and protects existing agricultural lands. "Local food production" means crops, livestock, poultry, and other foods that are grown and raised on in Hawaii primarily for consumption by Hawaii residents and visitors.

It’s easy to submit testimony. Just go to the bill page and look for the box at the top, “Submit Testimony.” Be sure to say right at the beginning of your testimony whether you are in support or if you oppose. And then say at least a few words why.

In my testimony I will suggest removing that last part about “visitors.” Let them eat sushi. We need to have sustainable agriculture—and low-cost food—for ourselves first. It would be too bad if our best tomatoes end up in pasta sauce served at the big hotels.

We also want our sustainable agriculture to respond to the needs of residents—which means we may need more and larger farmers markets (where many items are already cheaper than in supermarkets) and to have them accept food stamps (SNAP). That’s important to keep the money circulating in Hawaii and in effect brings in federal funds to help support the sustainable agriculture effort.

So please consider supporting this bill, and suggest your own improvements in your testimony.

Remember: the hearing is Monday. Send something in as soon as you can.


I challenge anyone to demonstrate when we have ever experienced a time when Hawaii ran out of food due to shipping strikes, hurricanes or whatever. So the premise of this bill is absolutely false. This is a thinly veiled attempt to fund unreliably and horribly expensive locally-grown organic produce and to eliminate use of all pesticides in agriculture. The premise used to be based on the touted fear of "peak oil' which would, it was thought, make it economically infeasible to import food from the mainland as we have always done, because most working and poor families cannot afford to pay for the expensive locally grown food. The local food movement is merely a self-serving PC allegation that has never been upheld by the facts. Do you hear anything about "peak oil"" now? Nope! Because it was based on another flawed premise that humans are too stupid to viably solve transportation challenges and that oil is the only way we can fuel ships which deliver our food. Typical elitist thinking as it is apparently un-PC to assume that coal-fired and nuclear-powered ships can easily carry any cargo today even though both are age-old technologies that are proven. Exempting Hawaii from, or eliminating, the Jones Act would be the quickest, most direct, lease costly and honest way of insuring a cheaper and more reliable food supply that the low information eco-whimps claim is so vulnerable. It will always be cheaper to import our food from the much lower cost mainland providers. Those who think it won't be so in the future are ignorant and have other agendas driving this BS movement. Prove me wrong! Locally grown food is fine, but forcing it on us by rule of law is dictatorial and an attach on freedom. Typical socialism.

Coal or nuclear powered container ships? Really? Find me one.

A tsunami or severe storm could wipe out loading/unloading facilities in the harbor. Unlike the mainland, goods cannot be unloaded in another state and trucked to a disaster zone. Should there be extensive power outages, there would be no refrigeration for the duration, except for facilities with generators, and when their fuel runs out... that's it for keeping food safe.

I have never noticed a plan to eliminate all pesticides in agriculture. That premise is far stranger than 'peak oil', which will happen one day or another.

Love your comment.


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