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.
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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 ‘Measure in state Legislature targets alien little fire ants’
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 ‘Farming pioneer awarded’
The GMO debate is considered one of the most controversial and confusing issues facing our state. Supporters say the technology behind genetically modified organisms is feeding the world at a time when the population keeps exploding and space to farm is getting scarcer. Opponents say it poses health and environmental risks – the full scope of which is unknown, because its application is too new.
A genetically modified organism is a living thing, like the corn grown on over 2,365 acres in Kunia by Monsanto, which has been altered to produce a desired trait.
"A good comparison is to an iPhone. The iPhone is like the basic corn – putting more genes in or making it GMO is like adding additional apps into that phone, into that corn. It makes it more valuable and a better tool for farmers to produce their crop," described Fred Perlak, Ph.D., Monsanto Hawai’i Research & Business Ops Vice President.
Perlak says GMO corn can be engineered to resist insects and herbicides and tolerate droughts.
"Ethanol production, high fructose corn syrup, feed for cattle, fed for pigs for chickens – all that comes from this particular kind of corn," explained Perlak.
According to experts, approximately 90% of all corn grown in North America is GMO – along with cotton, canola and soy. Continue reading ‘The ABC’s of GMO with Monsanto Hawaii’
Tuesday’s edition of the Federal Register contains new regulations that would ban new strands of bath salts, allow Filipino bananas in Hawaii, and a handful of rules for executives in the housing industry.
Here’s what is happening:
Bananas: The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering changes to a rule that would allow Filipino bananas to be sold in Hawaii and other U.S. territories along the Pacific coast. The bananas would have to adhere to certain safety requirements to make sure they don’t bring pests into those areas. Continue reading ‘New regs for Tuesday: Bath salts, bananas, housing’
SEATTLE — A Washington state ballot measure requiring mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods has been rejected.
The campaign over Initiative 522 has been one of the costliest initiative fights in state history, drawing millions of dollars from out of state. The measure was failing 46 percent to 54 percent after more ballots were counted Wednesday evening, with the “yes” side trailing by almost 100,000 votes.
“We’re delighted with the vote tonight,” said Dana Bieber, a spokeswoman for the No on 522 campaign. Voters “gave a clear message. The more they looked at the initiative the less they liked it.”
PIERRE, S.D. — A record-breaking storm that dumped 4 feet of snow in parts of western South Dakota left ranchers dealing with heavy losses, in some cases perhaps up to half their herds, as they assess how many of their cattle died during the unseasonably early blizzard.
Meanwhile, utility companies were working to restore power to tens of thousands of people still without electricity Monday after the weekend storm that was part of a powerful weather system that also buried parts of Wyoming and Colorado with snow and produced destructive tornadoes in Nebraska and Iowa. At least four deaths were attributed to the weather, including a South Dakota man who collapsed while cleaning snow off his roof.
Gary Cammack, who ranches on the prairie near Union Center about 40 miles northeast of the Black Hills, said he lost about 70 cows and some calves, about 15 percent of his herd. A calf would normally sell for $1,000, while a mature cow would bring $1,500 or more, he said.
“It’s bad. It’s really bad. I’m the eternal optimist and this is really bad,” Cammack said. “The livestock loss is just catastrophic. … It’s pretty unbelievable.” Continue reading ‘Ranchers counting cattle deaths, thousands without power after early snow buries western SD’
At the Oskie Rice Arena, the Friday night lights hung in the damp, mid-December Hawaiian air. Beaming through Maui’s notorious red clay dust, the lights served as a backdrop to one of the Upcountry’s biggest annual events. On the metal bleachers, families were bundled against their idea of the cold: a winter chill that sank just below 60 degrees. There were coats, blankets and hoodie strings pulled tight. There was Portuguese soup and Puerto Rican stew at the family-run concession stands, where the handwritten menus were scrawled in thick felt marker, crossed through as the “onolicious” fried ice cream or pork with tofu and macaroni ran out.
All around us, children treated the bleachers as a jungle gym, climbing and dangling and hopping from bench to bench. On the highest bleacher, a girl with sun-streaked hair and sun-kissed skin popped up at my feet like a mischievous gopher. Startling me, she shrieked, giggled and monkeyed away. On the grass, behind the arena’s wire-and-post fence, a little boy in a tan cowboy hat paced in black cowboy boots with tiny silver spurs.
The rodeo was about to begin.
When most mainlanders picture Maui, they see surfers sliding down mammoth waves, bays crowded with sailboats and waterfalls alongside the ragged, verdant Hana Highway. But the Upcountry, which sweeps across the island’s interior and climbs the volcanic foothills of Haleakala, is another Hawaii. Instead of beaches, surf shacks and shaved ice stands, the region has chilled air; sprawling, multigenerational cattle ranches; and a paniolo — Hawaiian cowboy — tradition that precedes its mainland American counterpart by half a century.
“They were running horses up here,” a trail guide would later tell me, “when they were still settling the Midwest.” Continue reading ‘In Maui’s Upcountry, Where the Paniolo Roam’
Authorities were investigating a new suspected case of crop contamination on Thursday – the second in the Pacific north-west in five months – after samples of hay tested positive for genetically modified traits.
The investigation was ordered after a farmer in Washington state reported that his alfalfa shipments had been rejected for export after testing positive for genetic modification. Results were expected as early as Friday.
If confirmed, it would be the second known case of GM contamination in a major American crop since May, when university scientists confirmed the presence of a banned GM wheat growing in a farmer’s field in Oregon.
The suspected outbreak comes in the run-up to a ballot measure in Washington state that would require mandatory labelling of all GM foods.
Alfalfa is America’s fourth largest crop, behind corn, wheat and soybeans, and the main feedstock for the dairy industry. A confirmed case of contamination could hurt the organic dairy industry, which is now worth $26bn a year, forcing farmers to find new sources of GM-free feed. It could also hurt a growing export industry. Alfalfa is increasingly sold for export but buyers, such as Japan, do not want GM products.
Campaigners said the suspected case of contamination provided further evidence of the difficulties of containing GM crops.
“It’s telling that these things keep happening repeatedly,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney at the Center for Food and Safety in Portland, Oregon. “It’s a systemic problem. We have a failed regulatory system for these crops.” Continue reading ‘Washington state alfalfa crop may be contaminated with genetic modification’
September 12, 2013
Power Brokers takes a turn over the waters of the Pacific to Hawai’i, whose indigenous population shares a common history with Native Americans and Alaskan Natives on the mainland. In 1893, the sovereign kingdom of Hawai’i was overthrown, with the country seeing an eventual annexation by the United States five years later. Since statehood in 1959, there has been a growing movement of recognizing the importance of Hawaiian language, culture and sovereign recognition. This includes war crime complaints filed within the International Criminal Court and the UN Human Rights Council.
Because of the growing interest in Hawaiian sovereignty, it is important to recognize the members of the Hawai’i State Legislature who are open about their indigenous identity. Many of these indigenous legislators have been in office for several terms and hold majority leadership positions. Continue reading ‘Power Brokers VI: Crossing the Pacific into Hawai’i’
Thousands on Kauai marched the streets to show their support of the “Right to Know” Bill, a bill that would require agricultural companies working with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to disclose the chemicals they’re using and take extra steps to keep the chemicals contained.
It’s a volatile debate. One side is arguing business and development, the other side health and safety.
The bill is going to its second hearing Monday in front of the county’s Economic Development and Agricultural committee, where changes could be made before a final city council vote on the measure.
Roads were shut down as nearly 2,000 people marched in the streets from Vidinha Stadium to the Historic County Building, the place where the Right To Know Bill will go before a committee hearing Monday morning.
“We’re united. This is exactly what they didn’t want to happen,” a community activist at the Mana March said.
They rallied to send this message to the agricultural corporations that are reportedly testing new pesticides and GMO technologies on Kauai agricultural land.
“If you like poison, poison your own place. If you like experiment, experiment on your own family,” activists said.
Many said they have had enough and are concerned about the health effects the chemicals are having on their families, and the environmental impacts that the pesticides may have for generations to come. Continue reading ‘Thousands rally against GMO practices on Kauai’
It’s known as the premier epicurean destination event in the Pacific, an annual festival co-founded by Chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong.
The Hawaii Food and Wine Festival started with an event on Maui last weekend and has been going on all week long, with wine tastings, cooking demos, and field trips.
They’re some of the biggest names in food world.
19 celebrity chefs from Hawaii, the mainland, and around the globe are here in Hawaii to create gastronomic delights showcasing local ingredients.
“Lobsters from the Big Island, tomatoes from here, all my herbs are from the island,” Chef Chris Cosentino Said.
“The true essence of what we do is to cook with what we have, and that’s what cooking is about,” says Chef Mark “Gooch” Noguchi.
“Mr. Kenney cooked this amazing sandwich with nori and poi. It was just amazing, and tasted like a desert and savory, just delicious,” attendee Sherrie Straus Fogel said.
At $200 a ticket, folks could eat to their hearts content, sampling not only food but also wine. Continue reading ‘Hawaii Food & Wine Festival’
Much attention has been turned in recent months to the fact that the agro-chemical/GMO industry — corporate giants Dow, Pioneer DuPont, Syngenta, Monsanto, BASF — have been using Hawaii since the 1990s as one of their main testing grounds for experiments engineering new pesticide-crop combos. On the “Garden Island” of Kauai, the industry controls over 15,000 acres of prime agricultural land, which they drench with over 17 tons of restricted-use pesticides each year, and likely at least five times that amount in non-restricted pesticides that may be equally as harmful (such as glyphosate).
Because genetically engineered seeds are most typically designed to be used in conjunction with specific pesticides, the development of new GE crops (or at least the types the industry is choosing to develop) requires repeated applications of these chemicals and their mixing into new toxic cocktails with unknown consequences. From a lawsuit, we know that Pioneer DuPont alone has used 90 pesticide formulations with 63 active ingredients in the past 6 years. They apply these pesticides around 250 (sometimes 300) days each year, with 10-16 applications per day on average. The amount of pesticides used on the island by these operations makes the corn fields in Kansas look organic.
Pesticides are sprayed next to schools, hospitals, neighborhoods and major waterways, with zero buffer zone and zero public knowledge of what is being sprayed and when it will happen. Preliminary evidence suggests that living in the shadow of these companies may be causing alarming rates of rare birth defects and cancers. Continue reading ‘From the Experimental GMO Fields of Kauai to the TPP’
The nonprofit Hawaii Agriculture Research Center in Kunia on Oahu plans to build a 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic facility on two acres of land owned by the center and Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., according to a City and County of Honolulu Planning Commission public hearing notice.
Solar Hub Utilities LLC and the Hawaii Agriculture Research Center are named as the applicants.
In June 2012, SPI Solar said it acquired the rights from Solar Hub Utilities to co-develop and build almost 70 solar energy facilities in Hawaii.
The facilities, which will be no more than 500 kilowatts each, are located on Oahu, Maui and the Kona side of the Big Island, and are mostly ground-based with some rooftop and shade structures, SPI Solar previously said.
The solar facilities are expected to feed energy into the power grids operated by Hawaiian Electric Co., Maui Electric Co. and Hawaii Electric Light Co. through the utilities’ feed-in tariff programs.
Hawaii regulators are re-examining the FIT program, which is designed to encourage the addition of more renewable energy projects in the state.
The hearing on the project is scheduled for Sept. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Mission Memorial Building located at 550 S. King St. in Honolulu.
HILO >> Hawaii County lawmakers are considering a bill that would make it easier for small farmers to give tours to visitors, usually for a fee, and to sell related agricultural and nonagricultural products at a gift shop. Large agricultural operations already can do this.
The legislation, which the council is scheduled to hear Thursday, proposes separating agricultural activities into “major” and “minor” operations, West Hawaii Today reported.
Minor operations would be required to limit annual visitors to 5,000, with a maximum 100 visitors per week. Major operations would be allowed up to 30,000 visitors per year.
The Hawaii Agritourism Association and other supporters say the bill will help small farmers survive the vagaries of the economy and weather by providing a reliable supplemental income source.
Opponents worry the measure will distract farmers from their primary occupation of food production, while increasing the value of agricultural land and property taxes.
Freshman Puna Councilman Zendo Kern proposed the bill. He’s been trying to draft a measure balancing the needs of small farmers and would-be “agritourism” businesses with rural neighbors who worry about impacts like increased traffic and noise.
Major agritourism operations still would need to get their plans approved, while minor ones would not. Both types would be required to turn over financial records upon the request of the planning department to verify compliance.
North Kona Councilwoman Karen Eoff hopes the bill can be delayed a little longer to ensure it’s the best it can be before moving it on to its final hearing later this month.