State Lacks Commitment to Agriculture Industry

According to a news report in West Hawaii Today, “the Department of Agriculture released its Fiscal Year 2019 Annual Report on the Agricultural Development and Food Security Special Fund to the Legislature last month, as required by law. According to the report — mandated by Act 73, the 2010 law that created the fund using 15 cents of a $1.05 tax per barrel of imported petroleum product — just over $4 million was raised for the fund through the tax and $25,000 by other means.

There were $2.73 million in expenditures from the fund, including $706,935 for irrigation program operations and personnel, $261,486 for irrigation/land projects, $543,455 for administration, planning and neighbor island support, $388,535 for market development, $382,818 for pest control and biosecurity, and $371,500 for research and studies.

The report projected a $5.6 million beginning fund balance for FY 2020.

Projected for this fiscal year is an increase in expenditures for irrigation — $962,000 for personnel and program operations and $500,000 for irrigation/land projects. No cost figures for those projects were cited.”

“I think we’re lacking in leadership, and we’re lacking in financial commitment. We don’t do the things we say we’re going to do to support local agriculture, in my opinion,” said Sen. Russell Ruderman, a Puna Democrat, on Monday according to West Hawaii Today.

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The following comment was found on the Hawaii Tribune Herald website.

Support agriculture

I applaud the Tribune-Herald’s article “No love for agriculture?” in Tuesday’s edition. Big Island Sen. Russell Ruderman is so right.

We need to support and develop more agriculture here in Hawaii, especially here on the Big Island. We rely too much on the U.S. mainland for food. As he said, over 85-90% of our state food is imported from the mainland. We would do well to encourage and support local farmers. This would certainly increase money flowing into our state, as Ruderman pointed out.

Also, in the past, I would point out, we have suffered strikes from the shipping industry. Just about two years ago, Matson threatened a strike. Thankfully, there was an agreement at the bargaining table, and a strike was avoided.

But I remember in the 1970s when we suffered strikes. There were long lines at the gas stations. There were long lines at the grocery stores. People rushed the grocery store shelves to buy rice. It was common to find that most stores had sold out of rice quickly.

We can grow our own rice here in the islands. I heard that in Waipi‘o Valley they used to grow rice there many years ago. Also, we can increase the taro growing. We can possibly exchange our liking of rice for taro.

I personally prefer rice over taro, being an Asian, but if there was no rice to eat, I would eat taro.

I lived in Samoa for awhile, and that is all the locals ate there besides breadfruit and other things, so I learned to like taro.

Also, I think it’s a good idea for us nonfarming residents to grow food in our back yards. I personally have a small pineapple patch in my back yard and am making plans to start growing some vegetables in a raised bed.

Let’s stop being so reliant on the mainland for food, and grow our own food here in Hawaii. We can lower the prices of food for consumers here and also put money into local farmer’s pockets.

Much mahalo to Sen. Ruderman for bringing this to our attention!

Get on the “stick,” Gov. Ige and Mayor Kim! Support and increase agriculture in Hawaii!

Stan Aoki


Also See:

Big Island agriculture hit hard by vog

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