Each week, we will answer a question from our readers regarding our operations and community outreach in the State of Hawaii. Submit your question by visiting the contact page. Thanks for reading. Mahalo!
Q: I’ve heard that Monsanto Hawaii wants to put smaller farmers out of business. Is this true?
This is absolutely not the case and, in fact, the exact opposite is true. Monsanto Hawaii is 100% focused on agriculture and our mission is to help fellow farmers succeed through the use of innovative practices and tools that empower farms to produce more food, fiber and fuel, while at the same time conserving natural resources and operating more sustainably.
As an agriculture company, we believe we have a responsibility to work collaboratively with our fellow farmers to promote a strong and successful Hawaii ag industry. Some of our efforts to help other farmers throughout Hawaii include:
- The Hawaii Agricultural Foundation Ag Park at Kunia promotes sustainable local farming by making land and other resources available to small local farms growing a variety of produce and other crops. The Park was created through an innovative partnership between Monsanto Hawaii, Island Palms Communities and the Hawaiian Agricultural Foundation.
Calls have been coming in from PNG and Solomon Islands, wanting to send participants to attend the upcoming South Pacific Nut (SPN)nangae and natapoa nut training workshop from August to November, after alerted through the Daily Post website issue of 8th March, 2014.
But it is exclusive targeting Ni Vanuatu potential nut farmers. The harvesting of natapoa has started and with the first 100 kilo coming from Ambae and Emae, it involves many farmers, but mostly women.
The harvesting of natapoa will continue till July and nangae harvest from August to November. SPN estimates a production of four tons of natapoa kernel sun dry at Vt800 vatu per kilo and 10 ton nangae kernel with testa at Vt700 per kilo.
Tongoa women are the champions when it comes to cracking nangae nuts, with 82 kilos of nut in shell in 18 kilo kernel using two (laplap) stones. The islands of Paama and Tongoa are small, but 10 years ago buyers were buying nangae at a quantity of several millions annually and SPN had to stop due to quality.
SPN expects participants mainly from Malekula, from the south, Aulua, Tisman, Sarmeth, Wala, Worwor and north west Malekula, Hog Harbor nangae, south, north east areas on santo, Ambae Father E Mala from Longana with potential nuts ,Paul Ren, ex member Parliament from Maewo will send a team, Pentecost, Ambrym, Nguna and Shefa Islands. Again many have been refused, in particular if they are not potential nut farmers.
Every farmers coming in the training workshop can airfreight nuts every day during their stay to supply fresh crack nangae will to help the farmers offset the cost of transport, accommodation and food.
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.
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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
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
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
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.”