PUHI — Gov. Neil Abercrombie is not getting many kudos from Kaua‘i residents lately. Heavily criticized for signing Act 55 last year, Abercrombie was booed several times at a meeting at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School in Puhi Wednesday evening, attended by approximately 200 people.
“I suggest you take a look at what the children have put on the walls around here, about respect and about self-discipline,” said Abercrombie, making a reference to posters around the school while reacting to being interrupted several times.
Shortly after the state Legislature approved Senate Bill 1555 last year, Abercrombie signed Act 55, creating an appointed five-member Public Land Development Corporation that will decide the fate of development — by circumventing county zoning laws — on roughly 1.8 million acres of public lands. The developments on those lands will generate additional revenues to the state Department of Land and Natural resources.
The meeting was Abercrombie’s first “Governor’s Cabinet in Your Community” event, a series of statewide public meetings where the governor and key members of the administration will share project updates and listen to community issues.
Abercrombie brought with him Scott Enright, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture, Loretta Fuddy, director of the Department of Health, William Aila Jr., chair of the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Glenn Okimoto, director of the Department of Transportation, Leslie Tawata, from the Department of Human Services, and Lori Tsuhako, Homeless Program administrator.
Each department head went through recent improvements and achievements. When state spokeswoman Donalyn DelaCruz opened the floor for questions, Aila was the first to take the heat.
The economic downturn means organic farmers are less likely to reap rewards of premium prices for their produce
Farmers across the UK have been deserting organic farming, or holding back on plans to convert their land to more environmentally friendly farming methods, as sales of organic products have fallen in the economic downturn.
Last year, only 51,000 hectares was in “conversion” – the process that farmers need to go through to have their land and practices certified as organic. That is less than half the amount of land that was in conversion in 2009, which itself was down markedly from the recent peak of 158,000Ha in 2007, according to statistics released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday morning.
Far fewer farmers are interested in turning their land to organic production, despite the promise of premium prices for their produce, after a marked fall in sales of organic goods in the past two years as a result of the recession.
BERLIN — Specialists in high-tech labs tested thousands of vegetables as they hunted for the source of world’s deadliest E. coli outbreak, but in the end it was old-fashioned detective work that provided the answer: German-grown sprouts.
After more than a month of searching, health officials announced Friday they had determined that sprouts from an organic farm in the northern German village of Bienenbuettel were the source of the outbreak that has killed 31 people, sickened nearly 3,100 and prompted much of Europe to shun vegetables.
“It was like a crime thriller where you have to find the bad guy,” said Helmut Tschiersky-Schoeneburg, head of Germany’s consumer protection agency.
It’s little surprise that sprouts were the culprit — they have been implicated in many previous food-borne outbreaks: ones in Michigan and Virginia in 2005, and large outbreak in Japan in 1996 that killed 11 people and sickened more than 9,000.
While sprouts are full of protein and vitamins, their ability to transmit disease makes some public health officials nervous. Sprouts have abundant surface area for bacteria to cling to, and if their seeds are contaminated, washing won’t help.
“E. coli can stick tightly to the surface of seeds needed to make sprouts and they can lay dormant on the seeds for months,”
The European agriculture commissioner has proposed spending €150m (£135m) to compensate farmers affected by the E coli outbreak by paying them a proportion of the cost of unsold products.
Dacian Ciolos, speaking before emergency talks between EU agriculture ministers, said farmers could receive around 30% of the cost of vegetables they have been unable to sell due to fears over the outbreak in Germany, which has killed 22 people and made more than 2,200 ill.
“We propose €150m. We will obviously see what we get,” Ciolos said.
The plan was immediately rejected as insufficient by Spain, which has suffered disproportionately from the economic impact of the outbreak, in part because it grows a significant share of Europe’s salad produce but also because cucumbers from the country were initially blamed.
“No, Spain does not see it as sufficient,” the country’s agriculture minister, Rosa Aguilar, said. Spain and some other EU countries had drawn up an alternative plan under which farmers would be compensated for between 90% and 100% of market price losses, she said.
Her French counterpart, Bruno Le Maire, has backed the Spanish plan.
The ministers are expected to reach an agreement in principle later on Tuesday. They are coming under intense pressure from the EU farming lobby, which argues that Spanish farmers alone are losing €200m a week due to the outbreak, with weekly €100m losses in Italy.