What You Need to Know About Hawai‘i Constitutional Amendment 2

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Next Tuesday, voters statewide will face five constitutional amendments, two of which relate to agriculture. Get to know what these amendment questions mean before heading to the polls so you can choose either Yes or No, since a blank vote counts as a No. Here’s what you need to know about Amendment 2, which would support the local food industry and agriculture.

What it says:

CON AMEND: Relating to Agricultural Enterprises

“Shall the State be authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist agricultural enterprises on any type of land, rather than only important agricultural lands?”

What it means:

Special purpose revenue bonds are issued to allow private investors to give loans to borrowers—say, a farmer. The investor, not the state, is responsible for paying back the funds if the borrower falls short. These loans come with a lower interest rate, which benefits the borrower, and the interest is tax-free, which benefits the investor. The state does nothing other than facilitate, meaning no taxpayer money is spent, and the state’s credit is not affected if the borrower doesn’t make payments.

Right now, only 6 percent of Hawai‘i is designated as important agricultural lands. It’s a lengthy and complicated process to apply, says Brandon Lee of Ulupono Initiative, and the designation requires the lands must be used only as ag lands, never for any other purpose, such as development. Farmers on these lands are allowed to seek special purpose revenue bonds; though, according to Lee, none has been granted in the past four years.

“There is an allocation [of bonds],” Lee says. Because the state can’t allow the special bonds for every single project, there are designated categories, such as early childhood education and nonprofit healthcare facilities. “But, roughly, in four years, four or five projects have been approved as special purpose revenue bonds, and none of them under agriculture. Ag hasn’t gotten its fair share.”

Broadening the category from important agricultural lands to ag enterprises on any lands will increase the chances that farmers, ranchers and other ag businesses can get the money they need to update their operations, improve facilities and, ultimately, grow more food.

A Yes vote is a vote for local food

Pumpkin Patch Festival returns to HPA | West Hawaii Today

The 23rd annual Pumpkin Patch Festival at Hawaii Preparatory Academy’s upper campus, sponsored by the school’s Ohana Association and Dr. Joan Greco, is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

This year, the family festival in Waimea will feature a pumpkin patch with locally grown pumpkins and a new $20 wristband for keiki.

The wristband covers the climbing wall, horseback rides, laser tag, The Zoo Choo Train, inflatable bouncer and a new 28-foot high double lane slip and slide. This year’s musical lineup includes the Honokaa High School Jazz Band, Ms. B and The Boys, Mikiala Yardley and her trio. Food booths will be plentiful, offering hamburgers, hot dogs, and island favorites, such as lau lau, GJ Huli Chicken and foods with an Asian flair.

Again this year, the festival will host several nonprofit organizations.

The pumpkin patch is now a zero-waste event coordinated by Noah Dodd, HPA lower school garden coordinator and Sam Robinson. Both will be available to offer their expertise to make it an educational day.

For more information, contact Pamela Heitz at pamelaheitz@sbcglobal.net or 405-740-4937.

Pumpkin Patch Festival returns to HPA | West Hawaii Today

Pick Your Own Hawai‘i-Grown Pumpkin at Aloun Farms

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Ahh, October—time for pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin mochi and Hawai‘i-grown pumpkins. Aloun Farms, which celebrates its 10th year of educational tours this year, hosts an average of 15,000 students at its annual pumpkin patch. Event coordinator Michael Moefu says the student tours run Tuesdays through Fridays. “They learn a little bit more about agriculture, not just pumpkins,” he says. “Corn, sunflowers, beans and over a dozen different varieties of pumpkins.”

This is also the 14th annual Pumpkin Festival at Aloun in Kapolei, which is open to the public the last three weekends of October from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 91-1440 Farrington Highway, Kapolei, 677-9516, alounfarms.com.

Pick Your Own Hawai‘i-Grown Pumpkin at Aloun Farms – Honolulu Magazine – October 2014 – Hawaii

Kohala Pumpkin Patch event expands despite shortage

It’s been one tough year to raise pumpkins on Kohala Mountain.

The crop has been hit with the triple whammy of a mouse plague, cut worms and a tropical storm that stressed the plants so much they dropped their flowers.

None of this has deterred the Kohala Mountain Farm Pumpkin Patch from opening for its eighth year of Halloween pumpkins, food, rides and other attractions. While visitors to the farm — which commenced a fun-filled month Saturday — may see fewer pumpkins than in previous years, they’ll find expanded offerings in other areas.

“All we could do was laugh and carry on,” farm manager Benjie Kent said.

Visitors can hop on a wagon for a tour of the fields. The ride, pulled by draft horses and offered by Naalapa Stables, is new this year. The petting zoo has been expanded and there is a new miniature pony cart ride and cake walk. Musical offerings have been expanded as well, with the Pau Hana Pickers set to play several days and Beyond Paradise out of Hilo set to play Nov. 18.

Families can have their photos snapped by a sign painted with height markers. If they come back each year, they can take photos showing how their child is growing. And there are plenty of opportunities for snapping the obligatory shots of kids in wheelbarrows with pumpkins.

The farm recently added an observation platform made with lumber donated by HPM Buiding Supply. The platform gives a good view down the coast and into the corn maze so observers can help their friends find their way out — or confuse them further.

Central to this year’s story at the 23-acre educational farm on Kohala Mountain Road, however, is the shortage of fruit suitable to be carved into jack-o-lanterns.

FIELD CROP PRODUCTION – PACIFIC REGION

P1050311SUGARCANE: The 2014 production of sugarcane in Hawaii is forecast at 1.43 million tons, up 2 percent from the previous year, but unchanged from the August forecast. Harvested acreage is estimated at 19.0 thousand acres, up 7 percent from last year. Yield is forecast at 75.0 tons per acre.

The 2014 U.S. production of sugarcane for sugar and seed in 2014 is forecast at 29.4 million tons, down 4 percent from last year. Producers intend to harvest 883 thousand acres for sugar and seed during the 2014 crop year, down 28.3 thousand acres from last year. Expected yield for sugar and seed is forecast at 33.3 tons per acre, down 0.5 tons from 2013.

COTTON: California Upland cotton production in California is forecast at 215 thousand bales, down 35 percent from the 2013 crop. Harvested acreage is estimated at 59.0 thousand acres, down 35 percent from a year ago. Yield is forecast at 1,749 pounds per acre, up 1 percent from last year.

California American Pima cotton production is forecast at 510 thousand bales, down 16 percent from the 2013 crop. Harvested acreage is forecast at 154 thousand acres, down 17 percent from last year. Yield is forecast at 1,590 pounds per acre.

U.S. upland cotton production is forecast at 16.0 million 480-pound bales, up 30 percent from 2013. Harvested area is expected to total 9.69 million acres, down 4 percent from last month but up 32 percent from 2013.

The U.S. American Pima cotton production, forecast at 578 thousand bales, is down 9 percent from last year. Expected harvested area, at 189.4 thousand acres, is down 5 percent from 2013.

RICE: California’s 2014 rice crop forecast, at 36.8 million cwt., is down 23 percent from the previous year. The yield forecast is 8,600 pounds per acre, up 2 percent from last month and up 1 percent from last year. Planted and harvested acreages are forecast at 433 thousand and 428 thousand acres, respectively. As of September 1, nearly all of the rice acres had headed.

The 2014 U.S. rice production is forecast at 218 million cwt, down 5 percent from August, but up 15 percent from last year. Area for harvest is expected to total 2.91 million acres, down 4 percent from August, but 18 percent higher than 2013. Based on conditions as of September 1, the average United States yield is forecast at a record high 7,501 pounds per acre, down 59 pounds from August and down 193 pounds from last year.

GLP Bulletin: ‘Kaua’i law restricting GMOs and pesticides illegal’ rules Hawaii Federal judge

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A federal judge struck down a new law regulating the use of pesticides and growth of genetically modified organisms by large-scale commercial agricultural companies on Kauai.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren decided Ordinance 960 (formerly Bill 2491) is invalid and preempted by state law.

The law was scheduled to go into effect Aug. 16 but the court extended it to October. However, the judge’s ruling stops the county from enforcing the ordinance.

The law required seed companies to disclose the types of pesticides they use and establish buffer zones near dwellings, medical facilities, schools, parks, public roadways, shorelines and waterways.

GLP Bulletin: ‘Kaua’i law restricting GMOs and pesticides illegal’ rules Hawaii Federal judge | Genetic Literacy Project

Big Isle papaya farmers’ loss estimated at $53M

Tropical Storm Iselle hit Hawaii island hard. It devastated papaya farms in Pahoa as the fruit-laden, top-heavy trees were no match for the storm’s intense winds.

HILO >> Hawaii island farmers are assessing damage to crops after Tropical Storm Iselle made landfall last weekend.

“It was pretty clear to us that the papaya farmers took the highest amount of damage,” Richard Ha, president of the Hamakua Springs Country Farms, told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald. “Estimation of the sales lost, plus the startup, the bulldozing costs and growing up to that first year, when they’re ready to harvest again is about $53 million,” he said.

“People have been flying overhead to look over the damage with helicopters. The damage is devastating. Some folks have about 80 percent damage. Some folks’ farms had less, of course, but the damage is extremely high,” Ha said.

State and federal agriculture officials spoke with local farmers Monday, he said.

Hilo Muni Improvements Topic of Meeting

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Renovations to the Hilo Municipal Golf Course will be the subject of a public meeting later this month.

The county Department of Parks and Recreation said the meeting is being held to explain the project’s scope and gather public input.

It is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22, at the Hawaii County Council chambers on Aupuni Street.

Aging buildings at the Hilo Muni suffer from termite damage and other problems. The back side of the restaurant is shown.

The proposed project includes replacement of the pro shop, restaurant and two on-course bathrooms, and reconstruction of four greens. It will also involve various maintenance and repair work, including replacement of water lines.

Jason Armstrong, spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said the work will also bring the golf course and adjacent driving range into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said work on the design phase, which is expected to cost $1.5 million, has already begun.

Hilo Muni Improvements Topic of Meeting on July 22

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Renovations to the Hilo Municipal Golf Course will be the subject of a public meeting later this month.

The county Department of Parks and Recreation said the meeting is being held to explain the project’s scope and gather public input.

It is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 22, at the Hawaii County Council chambers on Aupuni Street.

Aging buildings at the Hilo Muni suffer from termite damage and other problems. The back side of the restaurant is shown.

The proposed project includes replacement of the pro shop, restaurant and two on-course bathrooms, and reconstruction of four greens. It will also involve various maintenance and repair work, including replacement of water lines.

Jason Armstrong, spokesman for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said the work will also bring the golf course and adjacent driving range into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said work on the design phase, which is expected to cost $1.5 million, has already begun.

Armstrong said the department hopes to put the project out to bid early next year.

The renovations include replacement of two on-course restrooms. The one shown is located near Kawailani Street, near the tee area of the fourth hole.

He said the course, restaurant and pro shop will remain open during construction, which is expected to take 12 to 16 months to complete.

Pedestrian, vehicle and golf-cart traffic will likely be re-routed intermittently during construction, which will also require temporary modifications to play on the course.

At 165 acres, the Hilo Muni is the county’s largest developed recreational site. The course typically hosts about 80,000 rounds a year.

The county’s only golf course averages more than 200 rounds a day.

Hilo Muni Improvements Topic of Meeting on July 22 | Big Island Now