MAKAWAO – Upcountry farmers said this week that they have concerns about proposals to change the way agricultural lands are taxed.
A number of landowners said any changes that increased what they pay in property taxes could put small farmers and ranchers out of business. Others questioned how the proposal would affect people who stop farming because of old age.
“I’m retired, and I’m worried about how we’re going to afford this,” said former persimmon farmer Blanche Ito. “All of a sudden, we’re faced with this new bill that might increase my taxes, and that concerns me.”
Ito was among around 40 residents who attended a special meeting of the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee on Monday night at Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao.
The committee is considering legislation that would tax the land under a home on an agricultural lot in the same way as a regular residential property.
Currently, an agricultural house lot is taxed as a percentage of the larger parcel’s total value, often resulting in a significantly lower amount than what a similar lot in a residential neighborhood would be worth. Council members have said the measure would be a first step in bringing more equity to the property tax system.
But several testifiers questioned that idea.
Fighting farm theft and vandalism is getting a closer look by state officials in the wake of high-profile cases.
Tougher penalties, rural neighborhood watch and product tracking from field to vendor are among the ideas to combat a growing and troublesome trend.
Whether it’s theft of produce or vandalism on a massive scale, agricultural crime is becoming center on the state’s radar.
“It was the vandalism that really led to all of the interest, because we’ve have three incidents that we know of, so it’s kind of building,” said State Agriculture Director Russell Kokubun.
The crimes range from brazen papaya crop destruction on Oahu and the Big Island, to pineapple theft on Maui.
“We’ve had probably one or two pickups a day stolen out of 1350 acres, that’s a lot,” says Doug MacCluer of Haliimaile Pineapple Co.
HALIIMAILE – The Maui County Farm Bureau will host the second annual Maui Ag Day with a focus on understanding food safety certification from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Haliimaile Pineapple Co.
The trade show, a panel presentation on food safety, tour and parking are free. That event will be held at 872 Haliimaile Road.
A “Grown on Maui” lunch is free for Maui County Farm Bureau members. There is a fee for nonmembers.
Those planning to attend should RSVP by Wednesday. For more information, send email to warrenmcfb@hot mail.com or call 243-2290.
We were poking around upcountry Maui and driving its narrow, twisting roads, but by midafternoon we had to turn around. We had an important date at a lower elevation.
Forget meeting friends for mai-tais or heading to Lahaina for the sunset. We were going to herd the animals at Surfing Goat Dairy.
Herding anything may be the last activity one considers for a Maui vacation. But the dairy is one of several island farms that have opened for public tours over the last few years. They offer the chance to explore the island’s back roads, meet the growers and learn something about the exotic fruits, vegetables and cheeses you’ll encounter and enjoy on Maui.
“It’s a growing national trend,” says Maui resident Charlene Kauhane, a board member of the Hawaii Agri-Tourism Association. “Visitors are looking for authentic experiences, for opportunities where they can meet locals and buy local.”
And sometimes, you just want a break from the beach. So let’s go down on the farm on Maui.
Alii Kula Lavender Farm
Even before you arrive, you’ll detect Alii Kula Lavender Farm from the lovely fragrance wafting over Upcountry. It comes from 45 lavender varieties planted over 10 acres in Haleakala’s foothills. You can meander over paths on your own, or join one of the walking tours. You’ll learn about lavender’s culinary uses and healthful benefits, as well as the farm’s dedication to practicing agriculture in a sustainable way.
Alii Lavender also offers workshops in wreath making and container gardens, and other special events.
Ag tourism, marketing leaders are planting, watering seeds of interest with isle students
KAHULUI – At first glance, it’s hard to recognize the plot of land in Kahului filled with weeds, grass and natural debris. On second look, a couple picnic benches come into view and the nearby area, which was once a thriving banana plantation, becomes slightly more discernible.
However – the only thing Pomai and Lani Weigert see at the Maui High School farmland – is potential, acres and acres of it.
The mother-daughter team of ag tourism and marketing leaders are launching a pilot program to revitalize agricultural studies at MHS, Pomai’s alma mater, in hopes of harvesting future farmers and agricultural enthusiasts for Maui County.
As a result of the MHS farm replanting effort that started last month and two days of agriculture field trips, their efforts are already yielding results.
“Ag and food services have never had registration like how they have now,” MHS agriculture teacher Ian Lowland said. “Instantly the word got around: Cool stuff is going on in agriculture. They’ve been an integral part of all of this.”
MHS senior Sarah Bam said she realizes that agricultural skills are important for all people, especially those living in Hawaii: “Everybody should know how to plant and grow their own food.”
A year ago, Haliimaile Pineapple Co., the employee-driven farm picked up the pieces of the failed Maui Pineapple Co., and reopened with a new name and renewed commitment to grow pineapple.
Vice President Rudy Balala confirmed, “We just finished the one year. We had some up-and-down times, but overall we’ve had good support from Hawaii customers. And our Mainland customers too, they have hung with us.”
The company employs 83 people.
Friday was an extra day for picking to accommodate a field that had ripened earlier than expected.
KIHEI – Doug Schenk, a director of the Haliimaile Pineapple Co., will speak at the 7:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday of the Rotary Club of Kihei Sunrise.
He will discuss the “rebirth” of pineapple on the Valley Isle. As a locally owned and operated successor to Maui Pineapple Co., Haliimaile Pineapple Co. is trying to fill the void left by Maui Pine, which closed in 2009, a release said.
The breakfast meeting convenes at the Five Palms restaurant at the Mana Kai Maui Resort in Kihei. The cost of breakfast is $17. The meeting is open to the public.
For more information, call President Ed Corbett at 264-3468 or see www.kiheirotary.org.
WAILEA – Alex Chiarella of Pukalani and Cassy Isagawa of Wailuku won the 15-18
titles Sunday in the Haliimaile Pineapple Company Tournament of Champions at the Wailea Emerald Course.
Isagawa carded a 70 in the second round for a 138 total, 12 shots better than the runner-up, Honolulu’s Marissa Chow (75). Chiarella (70) finished at 140, a shot better than Lahaina’s Aaron Kunitomo (74) and Honolulu’s Lorens Chan (73).
Five golfers from Honolulu claimed first place – Malia Nam (76) won the girls 7-10 title with a 154 total, Len Yamada (80) was the boys 7-10 winner, finishing at 157, Hana Furuichi (72) totaled 146 for the girls 11-12 championship, Sian Rogers’ second straight 72 gave him the boys 11-12 crown and Richard Hattori (70) was the boys 13-14 winner with a 142. Ciera Min of Hilo closed with a 73 to finish at 144 for the girls 13-14 title.
Pukalani’s Jaelin Ishikawa (87) was fourth in the girls 7-10 division with a 182.
Jasmine Cabajar of Wailuku had a second-round 84 to place fourth in the girls 11-12 competition with a 169 total, two shots ahead of the fifth-place finisher, Kahului’s Kristeena Locke (87).
Kalea Heu (83) of Wailuku tied for fifth in the girls 15-18 division with a 156 total.
Kahului’s Kimberlie Miya-moto (81) had a 165 total for a sixth-place finish in the girls 13-14 division. Marissa Ura-domo (86) of Kula was seventh with a 168.
In the boys 15-18 division, Andre Bedard (77) of Kihei tied for eighth at 151, and Jameson Keiley (80) of Haiku was 11th at 159.
The Hawaii State Junior Golf Association is hosting 2010 Haliimaile Pineapple Co. Tournament of Champions on Maui this weekend.
The association is inviting all champions to compete in the end of the year tournament at Wailea Golf Club.
It’s the last opportunity players will have to earn points toward becoming “HSJGA Player of the Year” in each age division.
The association will also be recognizing the top boy and top girl golfers from each island, as measured by final HSJGA Point List.
These players will be eligible to participate in the 2011 Junior Golf Day scheduled to be held at the Kapalua Plantation Golf Course in January, just before the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.