LIHU‘E — The oldest agricultural organization in the United States has arrived on Kaua‘i.
The National Farmers Union was founded in 1902 to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers and rural communities, according to its mission statement.
In a state where most land is zoned agricultural or conservation, the Hawai‘i Farmers Union was not formed until June 2008. More than a year later, the organization reached Kaua‘i.
The Kauai‘i Farmers Union may be young, but is steadily growing on the island. HFU Treasurer Patti Valentine said the Kauai‘i chapter — for which she serves as liaison — already has 93 members. Half of them are farmers and the other half are friends of farmers.
“We encourage people who support farmers to join us too,” she said.
Valentine said HFU is a state organization which is mainly an advocate for small farmers, but large farmers can also join.
“We define members as a natural person,” said Valentine, adding that corporations can join at a higher fee but have no voting power.
HFU promotes prosperous agricultural communities through cooperation, legislation and education, the three basic frameworks of the NFU, Valentine said.
“That’s how they like to do everything, help set up cooperatives, help teach people how to do new and better farming methods, and show up in legislation,” said Valentine.
Everyone invited to free afternoon event in Honokaa
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye will bring his entourage and several other politicians to Honokaa High School from 3-6 p.m. today to join North Hawaii residents in celebrating their community’s “Ag Country Roots.”
The event is paid for and authorized by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
The community is invited to this free celebration that will spotlight many of the hard-working food producers of the region and include samplings of grilled grass-fed beef and a new sausage of Kahua mutton, Hamakua mushrooms and other foods grown or produced in Hamakua, Waimea and Kohala.
Informational exhibits also will feature in-school programs to grow the next generation of farmers and introduce the benefits of fresh, locally grown foods from farms and ranches in the region as well as backyard gardens.
The program also will acknowledge the 40-year contribution to Hawaii Island agriculture by Milton Yamasaki, who has managed the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’s Mealani Research Station, which includes two sites in Waimea, one in Hamakua and two in Kona.
Yamasaki, who was born and raised in Waimea and graduated from Honokaa High School, formally retired from CTAHR’s Mealani Research Station Sept. 30.
John Boyd, the president of the Black Farmers Association, is protesting the non-payment of black farmers in a $1.15 billion case settled years ago by driving his tractor to Capitol Hill. The compensation is for thousands of black farmers who were denied government loans because of their race. (Anna Uhls/The Washington Post)
The H-2A program allows agricultural employers to bring in foreign workers when there is a shortage of U.S. workers.
2008 | H-2A approved
» Bay View Farms: 10
» Bird Feather Hawaii: 25
» Captain Cook Honey: 2
» Hawaiian Queen Co.: 4
» Haleakala Ranch Co.: 1
» Kapapala Ranch: 1
» Kona Cold Lobsters: 8
» Kona Coffee Grounds : 36
» Larry Jefts Farms: 48
» Rincon Family Farms: 2
2008 | Rejected
» Bird Feather Hawaii : 10
» Precy Nazaire/Hawaii Agricultural Labor Services: 50
» Takenaka Nursery: 5
2009 | H2-A approved
» Bird FeatherHawaii: 18
» Captain Cook Honey: 2
» Global Ag Labor: 48
» Haleakala Ranch: 1
» Hawaiian Queen Co.: 6
» Kapapala Ranch: 2
» Kona Coffee Grounds: 28
» Kona Queen Hawaii : 5
» Larry Jefts Farms: 40
» Richard T. Watanabe Farm: 1
» Waikele Farms: 80
2009 | Rejected
» Bird Feather Hawaii: 3
» Global Ag Labor: 12
» Greenwell Farms: 12
» Kona Queen Hawaii: 2
» Palehua Ohana Farmers Cooperative: 8
Source: U.S. Department of Labor’s Foreign Labor Certification Data Center
A developer who hopes to build 3,500 homes makai of the H-2 freeway says farmers working on the land have found another place to plant.
Bruce Barrett, executive vice president of residential operations for Castle & Cooke Hawaii, said the farmers will have an equivalent piece of land and could seek more with the landowner, Dole.
Castle & Cooke is trying to address several impacts arising from its planned community, called Koa Ridge, including the displacement of farmers.
The developer will appear before the Land Use Commission on Thursday as part of the ongoing process to receive a permit converting agricultural land to urban land.
The developer addressed some concerns about its project at a community forum on Wednesday sponsored by the Mililani Neighborhood Board and the Sierra Club.
Those two groups are intervenors against the petition, which would allow the developer to build the homes and 500,000 square feet of commercial development.
The neighborhood board plans to support the development if the Land Use Commission imposes conditions on the developer that address traffic, education, affordable housing and other impacts on the community.
The Sierra Club, however, opposes the project because it displaces farming businesses and destroys agricultural land for more homes.
Even the wettest spot in Hawai’i — Mount Wai’ale’ale — wasn’t so wet last year as the state experienced below-normal rainfall in all but a few spots.
Rain gauges at the Kaua’i mountaintop measured 308 inches in 2009, 73 percent of normal levels, and a scant 3 inches in December, only 7 percent of normal. It was Mount Wai’ale’ale’s third-driest December on record, according to National Weather Service data.
In Honolulu, only the O’ahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge experienced above-normal rainfall in 2009 — 214 inches. Totals for most sites in central and west O’ahu were less than 50 percent of their annual averages.
The December rainfall numbers were even worse, with most O’ahu gauges measuring a third or less of normal rainfall averages, a trend that has continued into the new year.
The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99 percent of the state is experiencing "abnormally dry" or worse conditions, compared with 37 percent at the same time last year. More than a third of the state is suffering "severe to exceptional" drought.
On Maui and the Big Island, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month designated the two counties as natural disaster areas so farmers could seek relief for crop losses.
UNDER THE SUN
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 03, 2010
Now comes a study suggesting that early Hawaiian agriculture was vast and substantially more complex than previously known, implying that what was grown fed a population of perhaps a million people, which is about the present occupancy of Hawaii.
Samuel M. Gon III was clearly excited by the findings of a team of researchers and scientists from noted institutions.
"If a million mouths could be fed back then, this points to a future where we can wean our reliance on food from the outside world," said Gon, who as senior scientist with The Nature Conservancy in Hawaii participated in the study.
Posted: Oct 10, 2009
By Duane Shimogawa
HAWAII KAI (KHNL) – It’s the last large piece of undeveloped land in East Oahu and farmers have been working to prevent its development for the last five years.
The farmers face a big decision come next year involving the fate of their existence there.