Aloha State News
By John Breslin
For more than 70 years, the Hawaii Farm Bureau has been the foremost advocate and supporter of the agricultural industry in the state.
But HFB, initially formed in 1948 by a group of Windward Oahu farmers, is currently celebrating its 70th anniversary as it was formally incorporated two years later.
The organization has expanded and currently represents approximately 2,000 member families in 11 counties across the state.
It is “a grassroots non-profit organization founded by Hawaii farmers and ranchers and working with organizations, communities and individuals involved in all aspects of the agricultural industry in Hawaii,” according to its website, which adds that it acts as an umbrella organization for the different county bureaus.
One of its missions is to work for the economic opportunity, prosperity well-being and happiness of its members.
HFB further aims “to analyze and resolve the problems that face agriculture through effective cooperation, planning and representation, to promote farmers’ and ranchers’ access to the physical, financial, intellectual, and human resources necessary for successful and profitable agriculture,” its website states.
HFB is also involved in lobbying at state level, with a focus on government policies on water rate prices and, more generally, on maintaining an adequate supply to operations.
It also advocates for “agricultural marketing programs to expand the export of Hawaii-grown crops and promote greater consumption of locally produced commodities,” according to its website.
According to the Farmland Information Center, there are approximately 1.2 million acres of agricultural land in the state of Hawaii as of 2017. There were 7,328 farms in 2017, down from 7,521 a decade ago but an increase from 2012.
The number of farmers ages 34 and younger has increased over 10 years from 570 to 757. Somewhat worryingly, the number of farmers 65 and older has seen a sharp increase over the same period, from 2,746 to 5,161, the center noted.
Total market value of products sold was $563 million in 2017, with an average market value of products sold per operation at $76,938, according to the information center. The decade of the 2010s saw a sharp rise in products sold directly to consumers, from $8.6 million in market value to more than $27 million.