Listen to the Farmers Representative Wooley

A few weeks ago at the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board meeting, I had the chance to talk in person to Representative Wooley.  She mentioned that we can contact her as to what laws she’d like us to consider for the upcoming session.  I decided to take her up on it and sent her this email tonight.  If you’d like to share a word or two with her you can contact her at repwooley@gmail.com or repwooley@capitol.hawaii.gov

Aloha Rep. Wooley,

I spoke with you the other night at the Kaneohe Neighborhood Board meeting and would like to take you up on the offer as far as what kind of legislation I’d like to see regarding agriculture in Hawaii.
As a daughter of a long time farmer and farming family for nearly 4 decades, I really think that as a leader, Hawaii needs to consider the bigger picture.  Your statement to me that we need to change the meaning of agriculture is very disturbing because for Hawaii. It is not only food that needs to be grown here.  We have many other thriving industries here from seeds to nursery plants and other non-food crops that would not fall under your umbrella definition.  If we want to grow more food, just going after the seed industry isn’t going to solve the problem.  As a leader, I would hope that you could see that.  That is a very linear way of looking at the problem which ultimately never solves anything.
If the goal is to grow more food in Hawaii, we have to look at all the issues that affect why we aren’t more self sufficient.  Look at the whole system to address the best way to reach the intended goal.  When you look at those issues like energy costs, labor, supplies, land issues, and the other factors, you can have a better view of a more holistic plan of solving this issue.  The problem has to be solved systemically.  Your simple solution of changing the meaning of agriculture to growing of food and asking for label for biotech food does nothing to make food more likely to be grown in Hawaii. It places a line between farmers and that is not what is needed.  As a leader for the agriculture committee, how can you best serve the farmers, not just a certain faction of them but all farmers?
Does siding with one kind of farmer do anyone any favors?  No, it doesn’t.  You as a leader need to band together all farmers to solve these problems.  That is the responsible thing to do.  Where does the research and evidence lead to?  That should be your guide through all of this.
I must also note that your broad statement that there is no regulation about GMOs is patently false.  If that were the case, why is it taking such a long time to get through the process to be approved?  I’d really appreciate it if you’d be more honest when talking about the issues.  You know darn well that there is many tests that have to be presented before anything is approved by the FDA, EPA, and USDA.  You may not be happy with the process, but don’t state outright lies about the issue.
I’m counting on you, as well as many the younger generation of farmers, who are hesitant on whether or not to continue family farms in this current environment.  They need to know if you are really going to be a proponent of agriculture and education and plan to secure the future of ag technologies in Hawaii since you stated that there will be an education campaign.  It may not make you popular to your activists but do the responsible thing for the real people who work and support agriculture in Hawaii.

A Farmer’s Say Doesn’t Matter in Hawaii

It is so easy to sit back on a computer and have your opinion about how you  want your food grown.  You have a comfy chair to sit on, a nice computer with a quick internet connection, a fan to keep you cool, and a well stocked refrigerator to sustain you as you comment away on the social media.  That is how you are going to change the world to get farmers to grow food your way.  No. Never.

It is so easy for Jessica Wooley, Russell Ruderman, Mike Gabbard, Tulsi Gabbard, Gary Hooser, Billy Kenoi, and Brian Schatz to dictate the policies that they want done for agriculture because they have nice cushy offices and are guaranteed a paycheck, courtesy of the taxpayers.  They would rather stay in those positions then be on a farm any day.  Why do you think they are in office to begin with?  Farming is just too laborious and risky, while political office is a clean, stable position for life.

As much as these politicians are the listening to the public’s opinions, they have no qualms in ignoring the farmers, ranchers, and scientists testimonies on the future of agriculture.  We’ve seen that what is found on the internet and repeated as truths is much more valuable then the experiences of people who tend and till the land.  They have no say in the issue and are at the mercy of an uninformed public fear mongered beyond belief.  That is the direction that Hawaii is heading when we only consider public opinions for laws.

Our leaders talk about how they want to grow our ag industry in Hawaii but their actions speak otherwise.  Laws upon laws have become huge burdens on our farmers.  From business regulations, taxes, federal food safety laws, labor laws, county laws, and state laws all weigh upon these farmers who are growing food and cultivating the land.  We also can’t forget the outside factors that affect farmers too including energy costs, shipping costs, and being at the mercy of the weather.  These regulations may seem helpful on the outside but make the business and practice of farming less and less attractive.  With all the anti-technology laws being placed upon them also by Kauai and Hawaii county, how much more can these farmers take when potential tools are being kept from them?  What can our farmers do when their hands become tied by the wishes of ignorant politicians and an ignorant public?

As we see more and more farms closing down because of the regulations that our leaders have placed upon them, we get to thank each politician for being responsible for the demise of these farms.  The younger generations do not want to continue family farms because it just is too burdensome.  Would you take a job where your income isn’t guaranteed and bad weather can wipe out your entire crop?  What if the bugs eat up all of your crops and you can’t even use a tool that could help it because some politician said that you can’t?  Imagine having a job where you have to know everything about the tax, labor, and food safety laws to a tee to stay in business.  Not only do you have to manage those issues but you also have to physically work hard to get your product out to your consumers also.  Lastly, you are subject to criticism, thievery and even threats of crop destruction as part of your job description.  That sure doesn’t sound like a very attractive job to me at all. Our politicians have decided that this is the route they want to take with agriculture with their recent actions.  That’s the Hawaii that our leaders apparently want for our future of farming in our islands.

The World Does not March Against Monsanto

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If you have spent a minute on the social media, you would have heard that tomorrow is another March Against Monsanto in Waikiki and worldwide.  Many misguided folks will be getting ready today for that planned march against this so called “evil.”  The Babes Against Biotech are planning a flash mob and busy choreographing something during this social event to protest this perceived enemy.

Meanwhile, there are people in this world who still go without food.  That includes many people here in Hawaii.  The homeless, elderly, poor and others await to get their food from the local IHS, Meals on Wheels volunteer, or the Hawaii Foodbank.  The needy folks look forward to a hot meal over an empty stomach any day and don’t turn their noses up in disgust over what it could be.  What hungry person ever turned away a good meal? Many volunteers will be serving the these people food marching up and down kitchens or sidewalks to get to a hungry recipient.  Others maybe organizing bags of donated food to be handed out to a family, who doesn’t pull out the items and scrutinizes every label or fret about pesticides.

The farmers will also be working on this weekend preparing for next week’s crops and getting their fields planted too.  There is no time to stop and learn a dance, print flyers, paint signs and gather up a costume for an event like this.  Growing food is a never ending cycle that requires lots of time and effort to come to fruition.  Time is valuable to them to do the work they do year after year.  Their marching will be to the tractor in their shed to get it ready to plow or down the field to check the irrigation lines.

So while it is proclaimed across the social media that there is a March Against Monsanto once again, the real people who care about others will be busy at their tasks.  Good will and good intentions will be far more reaching that a march could ever do.