Some thoughts about Hawaii Right to Farm Bill… It’s not just about the Monsantos, Syngentas, Dows, BASFs, or Pioneers. It’s about the family farms like Hamakua Country Spring Farms, Tropical Flowers Express, Kahuku Farms, Kamiya Farms, Ho Farms, Fat Law Farms, Sugarland Farms, Aloun Farms, Ska Tropicals, Nalo Farms, Kuahiwi Ranch, Parker Ranch, Ponohono Ranch, Belmes Farms, and so many more.
The farms are all a part of a system that works and runs together. The big farm companies lease lands and maintain the ditches and dams that bring water over the mountains. They pay to maintain this infrastructure that was built upon the cane and pineapple days. (You know the industries that brought us local folks together?) On those lands that they lease, they sublease it, ready to farm, to the small farmers that grow the bulk of the produce here. These small farmers could never afford to pay to maintain these lands and get rates subsidized to start their farms. That’s where our food is grown. (Not many people actually want to do that unfortunately.)
The big farms use a lot of supplies and equipment that other farms can use. With more people needing farm stuff, the companies that bring it in can offer it at lower prices since there is a greater demand for it. Other farmers can get their fertilizers, potting soils, and other supplies much more affordably as a result. This puts equipment dealers and other farm suppliers in business.
Not only does the big farms and small farms need supplies but they also need many other businesses. That includes construction workers to build sheds and processing places for their produce. Drivers and delivery workers to get their goods out to the market. Mechanics might be needed too for fixing equipment. Even plumbers, pipe layers, and an engineer or architect for designing a new building. Fence and iron workers might be needed for putting up fences and gates. A mason worker would be needed for building that foundation for the sheds and driveways. The farmers also need health care companies to work on providing insurance to their workers. Doctors and dentists are needed to care for their workers to also. Accountants are needed to help keep the books in order also. Produce and seeds need to be shipped places by shippers, whether it be by air or cargo. These are things that farmers need others for, which create more jobs in our communities. No farmer could do this alone.
What legislators like Wooley, Gabbard, Green, Ruderman, and Thielen are attempting to do is tear apart this system that covers more than just the farms itself. They want their Californian utopia of small little farmers growing food. Who’s gonna pay for maintaining the infrastructures in place? The state? No. They need companies that can absorb those costs and be reliable tenants to the state and other landowners. This in turn creates jobs for the displaced ag workers, who relied on the plantations, which includes skilled workers to scientists. If you tear out this component of the system, the entire system would collapse. Do you think that is a good alternative for Hawaii? Hawaii was built on this system and relies on interdependence of all the parts.
So when you sit on the fence and don’t know whether or not to support the Right to Farm bill, you might want to think about it more, because it may spell the end of those nice little farmers’ markets across the islands, as well as impact others who don’t even farm. Who would want to farm anymore when more and more laws are added on your back to make your business even harder? No one.
Support the farmers and it means all of them!