Hawaii Free Press –
News Release from House Democratic Caucus, February 19, 2021 –
Honolulu, Hawaiʻi – A bill to dissolve the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) and transfer all its resource except the director to the Department of Agriculture was passed unamended by the House Agriculture Committee on February 17.
HB 1271 is in response to a devastating audit of the ADC that stated that the company – despite being given a clear mission, broad powers, and millions of dollars over the last 25 years – had failed to promote diversified agriculture that would feed the people of these islands and provide employment after the closure of the sugar plantations. Those findings were reaffirmed in an equally scathing report from the University of Hawaiʻi Economic Research Organization (UHERO).
The bill was introduced by Representative Amy Perruso with the support of Representatives Jeanné Kapela, Matthew S. LoPresti, Lisa Marten, Richard H.K. Onishi, Adrian K. Tam, Tina Wildberger, Della Au Belatti, and John M. Mizuno.
“I introduced HB1271 because I believe as lawmakers, we have a duty to protect the common good. When problems with governance emerge, despite our best efforts, we are doubly obligated to move swiftly to address the situation by ending the malpractice and charting a better course,” said Rep. Perruso (D-46, Wahiawā, Whitmore Village, Launani Valley). “That’s what HB1271 does. I’m grateful for the support of my colleagues in moving to repeal this bill that created the ADC in the first place.”
Perruso has heard regularly from several small farmers in her district about the difficulties encountered when trying to secure agricultural leases.
“We should be encouraging our small farmers, not putting up roadblocks or refusing to provide transparency as has been the case with the ADC. Importing 90% of our food puts us in a very precarious position. After more than two decades we are still without the plan that the ADC was supposed to develop to address food self-sufficiency. We cannot simply reproduce the status quo as if nothing is wrong with this attached agency,” Perruso said.