Hawaiian farms being prosecuted for importing Thai workers

By Mark Niesse
Associated Press

HONOLULU — Two prominent, popular brothers who operate the second-largest vegetable farm in Hawaii will be sentenced in federal court this week on human trafficking charges — they pleaded guilty — but two former state governors, community groups, fellow farmers and other supporters are trying to keep them out of prison.

The brothers were convicted of shipping 44 laborers from Thailand and forcing them to work on their farm, part of a pipeline to the United States that allegedly cornered foreign field hands into low-paying jobs with few rights.

Aloun Farms may be too important to fail in an island state that once relied on pineapples and sugar cane but grows less than 15 percent of the food it consumes, according to supporters of defendants Alec and Mike Sou.

“The incarceration of Alec and Mike Sou would threaten our food security and could endanger our future sustainability on Oahu,” wrote Kioni Dudley, president of the community group Friends of Makakilo, in a letter asking U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway for leniency. “Find some method of punishment which allows them to stay in their positions at Aloun Farms.”

The Sou brothers are asking for a light sentence with little or no jail time based in part on the idea that their farm is too valuable to the islands’ food supply to let it go untended. The plea deal they agreed to in January called for up to five years imprisonment.

Watermelons: What happened to the seeds?

By Jane Black
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 31, 2010; 11:35 AM

In 1995, Jason Schayot set the world record for spitting a watermelon seed when he shot his tiny black bullet a whopping 75 feet, 2 inches, almost a quarter of a football field. It’s a record that would be hard to beat. But Schayot might not have much competition anyway. Within a generation, most Americans won’t even know that watermelons have seeds, let alone how to spit them.

According to the National Watermelon Promotion Board, only 16 percent of watermelons sold in grocery stores have seeds, down from 42 percent in 2003. In California and the mid-South, home to the country’s biggest watermelon farms, the latest figures are 8 and 13 percent, respectively. The numbers seem destined to tumble. Recently developed hybrids do not need seeded melons for pollination – more on that later – which liberates farmers from growing melons with spit-worthy seeds.

The iconic, black-studded watermelon wedge appears destined to become a slice of vanished Americana. If that sounds alarmist, try to remember the last time you had to spit out a grape seed.

The sea change is all in the service of convenience.

Disaster Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness
How Prepared is Your Farming Operation?

Maui Extension Office
Monday, November 26, 2007
11 am ? 1:30 pm

Natural disasters, such as droughts, floods, wild fires, hurricanes, pests, and diseases, can cause excessive economic damage to agricultural production. In addition to crop damage, disasters can also affect farm buildings, machinery, animals, irrigation, family members and employees. Disasters along with marketing difficulties can lead to serious downturns in your farm income.

How prepared are you? This workshop is designed to provide you with information on:
1) preparing your operation for a natural disaster and
2) available and affordable crop insurance programs that minimize risk associated with economic losses.
Note: Now that the “Adjusted Gross Revenue” (AGR) insurance is available for 2008, in effect all Hawaii crops can be insured to some degree ? not just bananas, coffee, papayas, macnuts & nursery.

Speakers:
? USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers and oversees farm commodity, credit, conservation, disaster and loan programs. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of the agricultural industry and to help farmers adjust production to meet demand.

? USDA Risk Management Agency Western Regional Office, Davis. USDA RMA helps producers manage their business risks through effective, market-based risk management solutions.

? John Nelson from the Western Center for Risk Management Education (Washington State University) on the new Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) Insurance.

? Dr. Mike Fanning, Executive Vice President, AgriLogic, is a specialist in Agri-Terroism, crop insurance, farm policy analysis, and individual farm risk management.

? Dr. Kent Fleming, an agricultural economist with the University of Hawaii’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), is an Extension Farm Management Specialist with a focus on risk management education.

The workshop is FREE and lunch (sandwiches or bentos and drinks) will be provided. For more information, visit the website http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/agrisk/ You may also contact Kent Fleming @ 989-3416 or fleming@hawaii.edu or Jan McEwen @ 244-3242 or jmcewen@hawaii.edu

Please call the Maui Extension Office at 244-3242 by November 21, 2007 to register for this seminar.

Hawaii Crop Weather Weekly Report

Here is the PDF file for the *Hawaii Crop Weather* (crop progress and condition) Report for the week ending *July 1, 2007*

current_hi070107.pdf

Please visit the website for more information: http://www.nass.usda.gov/hi/

USDA NASS Hawaii Field Office
1421 South King Street
Honolulu, HI 96814-2512
1-800- 804-9514

Agricultural Highlights

Fruits

Bananas
Big Island orchards made generally good progress. Soil moisture was adequate. Sunny and warm periods benefited fruit development. Young and newly planted orchards in Pepeekeo made steady progress. Oahu orchards were in fair to good condition. Fields in windward areas remained in fair condition. Leeward and central Oahu fields made good progress. Irrigation levels were at heavy levels during the week due to a lack of rain and gusty winds. Kauai?s orchards were in good to fair condition.

Papayas
Conditions in the lower Puna area of the Big Island were ideal for orchard progress. Daily showers provided sufficient soil moisture. Sunny and warm periods provided a boost to flowering and fruit set. Field activities such as spraying for disease and weed control were active. On Oahu, fruit development and ripening were good with the increased day length and dry weather conditions. Mealy bugs and Ring Spot virus lowered production in some fields. Orchards on Kauai continued to make fair to good progress during the week. Spraying to contain insect populations was stepped up to contain an increase in infestation.

Vegetables

Head Cabbage
The Big Island?s Waimea crop was in fair to good condition. Heavy irrigation was required especially in the Lalamilo area. Routine spraying was controlling insect and disease losses. New plantings made good progress. The Volcano crop was in fair condition. Plantings have increased, but made slower progress due to the dry conditions. New plants were in good condition on Oahu. Insect infestation was at light to moderate levels. Maui?s crop remained in fair to good condition. Insect pressure was higher in the major growing areas, but farmers were closely monitoring conditions to ensure timely spraying.

Dry Onions
Most fields on Maui were developing at a slower rate due to hot and dry conditions. Average bulb size has decreased. Overall, Maui?s crop was in fair condition.

Sweet Corn
On Oahu, favorable weather conditions allowed the plants to make good progress. Some reports of light worm damage were reported during the week. Isolated windward fields experienced some growing problems. Big Island fields were in fair condition. Soil moisture was adequate and resulted in improved growth.

Other Crops

Coffee
The Big Island?s Kona coffee orchards made good progress due to adequate soil moisture levels. Coffee cherries were in the green stage of development. On Kauai, Isolated rains during the week benefited some fields. Showers at the upper elevations kept reservoir levels stable which allowed for good irrigation of all fields. Gusty trade winds were unfavorable for most fields and offset some of the benefits of irrigation.

Ginger Root
Plantings in the windward areas of Hawaii Island made good progress as daily showers raised low soil moisture levels. Sunny periods also helped to boost crop growth.

Sugarcane
Harvesting, planting, and milling activities were active on Kauai during the week. The summer showers which are typically at the upper elevations kept reservoir levels steady and allowed irrigation levels to keep up with the plant?s needs. Some insect infestation was reported with increased vigilance for control.

Watermelons
Harvesting on Oahu was active and supplies for the Fourth of July holiday are anticipated to be heavy.