Last year marked a sixth consecutive year of dramatic growth for Hawaii seed crop producers, according to a recent government estimate, though the industry dominated by seed corn may be nearing maturity.
The Hawaii office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported the value of the local seed crop industry rose 26 percent to $223 million in 2009 from $177 million the year before.
The gain further ingrains seeds as Hawaii’s largest crop by value, a spot seeds have held since pineapple was dethroned in 2006, though other crops contribute more to the local food supply and commercial sales.
Industry observers expect the strong pace of expansion, which began five years ago after hovering around $50 million for several years before that, will begin to cool as the industry matures.
Last season’s big jump reflected expansion of operations by some producers after large land acquisitions in recent years that allowed the companies to build up research and farming, according to Fred Perlak, president of the industry’s trade group, the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.
“I think what you’re seeing here is the maturing of the acquisitions in the last two or three years,” said Perlak, who is also vice president of research and business operations for Monsanto in Hawaii.
Fifty years after statehood, most of the plantations have gone fallow or become "gentleman’s estates." There are 6,500 "farmers" in Hawai’i, but only half are full time. The average farmer is 59, with an annual income of $10,000.
Ignoring the need for food security, we import at least 85 percent of our food and send billions to faraway agribusinesses when we could keep the money here to strengthen our self-sufficiency, enrich our economy and employ our jobless.
We were once a world leader in agricultural production. Now farmers have overwhelming challenges in land, water, infrastructure, pests, NIMBY, encroachment, transportation costs and burdensome bureaucracy, not to mention cheap foreign competition.
Can agriculture survive in Hawai’i?
ASA, CSSA, SSSA to present awards in Pittsburgh
October 7th, 2009
The American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA), and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) will recognize the following individuals during the scientific societies’ Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA, www.acsmeetings.org, on November 1-5, 2009. The annual awards are presented for outstanding contributions to education, national and international service, and research.
Recipients: Crop Science Society of America Award
James L. Brewbaker, University of Hawaii – Seed Science Award.
James L. Brewbaker has served as a plant breeder and geneticist for the University of Hawaii Department of Tropical Plant and Soil Science since 1962. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell University in plant breeding and has served as a visiting scientist in nine countries. His research is on the genetic improvement of tropical crops, with a focus on maize and tropical leguminous trees. He also founded Hawaii’s Crop Improvement Association and Hawaii Foundation Seeds, where he serves as director.
As Hawaii’s agricultural industry continues to decline, a sub-industry is growing in size and work force.
The state’s seed crop industry hit $146 million in value for the 2007-2008 season, surpassing pineapple and sugar, crops that were once Hawaii’s agricultural staples.
The seed crop industry’s value has grown at an average annual rate of 33 percent over the past five years. It makes up about 30 percent of the total value of all crops produced in Hawaii, according to the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association.
The trade group commissioned a study earlier this month to gauge the economic impact of Hawaii’s seed crop industry. The Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation performed the study using data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Posted on: Saturday, July 11, 2009
Value of state’s biggest farming sector hits record $146 million, study finds
By Andrew Gomes
Advertiser Staff Writer
Hawai’i’s fast-growing seed crop industry forecasts spending $276 million over the next 10 years, up from $164 million in the past 10 years, suggesting the state’s biggest farming sector expects continued expansion.
The forecast for capital expenditures was included in a new study commissioned by the Hawai’i Farm Bureau Federation and paid for by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, a trade group representing seed companies.
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