Howard Green thought he was helping farmers, like himself, sell more of their products directly to customers.
Instead, the bill he offered to lawmakers has raised concerns the state Legislature may again be trying to undermine county regulations on genetically modified crops and pesticides for the second time this session.
The legislation Green, an Oahu farmer and lawyer, said he wrote changes only a few words in a section on agriculture districts in the Hawaii Revised Statutes.
But the addition of “without further limitations or restrictions” in a sentence regarding allowed uses has some worried it could significantly limit the ability of counties to regulate agriculture, and pass laws, as Hawaii and Kauai counties did last year, addressing the use of modified crops and chemicals in agriculture.
Former Mayor Harry Kim, a critic of attempts by the Legislature to limit county home rule, said the companion legislation, Senate Bill 2777 and House Bill 2467, would have significant implications.
“I think a lot of people will be very surprised and maybe even stunned by it,” he said.
Sen. Russell Ruderman, D-Puna, called it a “sneaky … cynical attempt to take away home rule,” adding he has received email from constituents concerned about the legislation.
“I think the (genetically modified organism), pesticide issue is the motivation for it,” Continue reading
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will spend the next several months gathering information for the 2014 Commercial Floriculture and Nursery Survey. NASS will collect data on production area, sales of floriculture and nursery products, and the number of agricultural workers from producers in Hawaii, California and other major floriculture and nursery states across the nation.
“The data we collect in this survey will help the growers make vital business decisions and evaluate the results of the growing season,” said Mark Hudson, State Statistician of the NASS Hawaii Field Office. “The new report will also give us a chance to pinpoint new trends within the floriculture and nursery industry and ensure that policy decisions are made based only on factual information provided directly from producers.”
Once the survey is mailed, growers will have until February 24 to respond. After that, NASS representatives may be contacting those who did not respond to collect the information over the phone or in a face-to-face interview.
All information NASS collects in this survey will be kept strictly confidential, as required by federal law. The results of this survey will be made available in June 2014 in the annual Floriculture Crops report in aggregate form only, without revealing any information that may identify individual operations. All reports are available on the NASS web site: www.nass.usda.gov.
# # #
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).
LIHUE, Hawaii (AP) — The Kauai County Council has authorized spending $75,000 to hire attorneys to defend a new law regulating the use of pesticides and genetically modified crops by large agricultural businesses.
The 5-0 council vote, taken Wednesday with two members absent, will allow the county attorney to hire outside legal services to answer a lawsuit filed in federal court last month by Syngenta Seeds, DuPont Pioneer and Agrigenetics Inc., which does business as Dow AgroSciences.
County officials will select special counsel from a pre-qualified list of 17 attorneys, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported.
The county had initially planned to rely on donated services, and several firms had previously offered pro bono legal help.
But the county said it received only one response to its formal request for pro bono services. The county rejected that attorney’s submission, partly because of a lack of relevant qualifications.
Friday is the deadline for the county to notify the court of its legal representation.
Some council members expressed concern the initial allocation would fall short.
"Is $75,000 sufficient for the Syngenta v. County of Kauai case?" Councilman Mel Rapozo asked First Deputy Attorney Jennifer Winn, The Garden Island (http://bit.ly/1gAiVbt ) reported. "I can tell you, just looking at what we went through last week, that is going to be used up in a week or a month."
Rapozo said the council should create a budget to prevent outside attorneys from extending the county’s costs.
In the lawsuit, the companies claim the new law is "fatally flawed" and pre-empted by state and federal laws that regulate pesticides and genetically modified organisms. They contend that the ordinance will increase risks of commercial espionage, vandalism and misappropriation of trade secrets, and inhibit farming activities.
BASF, a fourth seed company that operates on Kauai, is not part of the lawsuit. A company representative has said it is still reviewing the situation and exploring its options.
A bill in the state House would provide $500,000 toward destroying little fire ants.
Of all the ants in all the world, Hawaii had to get bitten by this one.
Hawaii lawmakers on Monday advanced a bill aiming to study and kill the little fire ant, a hard-stinging pipsqueak that threatens the state’s economy and ecology.
House Bill 2469 would provide more than $500,000 toward coordinating efforts to corral and destroy the little fire ant. It includes money to pay for trained dogs to sniff out the tiny pests and for public outreach.
At 1/16th of an inch long, the copper-colored ant does not cut a formidable figure. But since it first landed on Hawaii island 15 years ago, possibly as a stowaway on a potted plant from Florida, the ant has spread on the Big Island and has popped up on Maui, Oahu and Kauai.
Of the perhaps 30,000 species of ants on Earth, only six are considered “really nasty,” said Cas Vanderwoude, the research manager of the Hawaii Ant Lab at the University of Hawaii. Of those six, he said, the little fire ant poses the greatest potential threat to Hawaii.
“Our lifestyle and climate just suit this animal down to a T,” he said. “If I was a little fire ant and wanted to go on vacation, I’d come to Hawaii.”
The ants have proved onerous for several reasons, Vanderwoude said. They live in trees, where they infest crops and bite agricultural workers. They also live on the ground, where they attack people and pets, perhaps partially blinding cats and dogs by stinging their eyes. A single square foot of infested ground can contain 2,000 ants.
The ants travel between islands by hitching rides on crops and propagated plants. That threatens to undermine agricultural exchange among the islands and beyond. The ants also drive away insects, birds, lizards and mammals that prey on other pest insects, further harming crops. Continue reading
LAKE EPPALOCK farmer Darren Doherty has been commended by the Hawaiian Government for his leadership in ecological agriculture systems around the world.
Regenerative agriculture I would describe as ‘beyond sustainable’ agriculture. – Darren Doherty
Mr Doherty, who runs a global “regenerative agriculture” business with wife Lisa Heenan, was recognised by the Hawaiian Senate after he delivered a series of talks in the Hawaiian Islands two weeks ago.
Mr Doherty spoke to large landholders in Hawaii about how they could make their farms more sustainable by changing grazing and cropping practices, value-adding and integrating forestry.
The talks were well-received, Mr Doherty said, but he was taken aback when Senator Mike Gabbard officially commended him for his work.
“As a rural Australian I am pretty bashful about that sort of thing, but on reflection I guess what we are on about is starting to come of age,” the fifth-generation Bendigo farmer said yesterday.
HeenanDoherty Pty Ltd’s mission is to “maintain creative, intergenerational family and community lives built around regenerative and profitable production, management and educational systems”.
For 20 years Mr Doherty has run talks and designed more than 1600 mostly broadacre projects in 45 countries, and is regarded as a pioneer in the regenerative retrofit of broadacre landscapes.
It’s not just about sustainability, he says.
“Simply sustaining something is lacking in ambition.
“Regenerative agriculture I would describe as ‘beyond sustainable’ agriculture.
“Sustainability is energy-in, energy-out, whereas regenerative agriculture is, ‘things are getting better as a result of what you are doing.’” Continue reading