What Will I Tell My Kids?

What Will I Tell My Kids?

Every Sunday, my dad and I get to talk story about what’s going on in the agricultural scene as well as the latest science research that we’ve heard about. We are avid followers of the latest findings and both follow the politics pretty closely. I’ve been having these chats with him for several years now and it’s usually pretty upbeat and positive.

Today’s one was unlike any other talk story time. He’s usually talking about how my brother is learning the ropes of the farm and loves to reminisce about the way he was when joining the farm with my grandfather. He’d say that young farmers come in with lots of bright ideas about how they are going to change this and that because the new way is better, only to realize that some old ways are good because they are tried and true. Today was different as I heard him mention that with all these additional laws being targeted at ag and farmers, he would not be surprised if my brother decides to throw in the towel.

I have to say that I have never even given thought to seeing the end of my dad farming. This is his passion! It was something that never made him rich but it is what he loves to do. He essentially worked two full time jobs for decades to support the family and keep the farm. My brother also realized my dad’s passion and wanted to continue his legacy. If he gives up, there will be no more Kamiya Papaya.

It seems farming was once a noble profession but in this day and age, it is no longer respected apparently. With all of this targeted legislation being proposed by politicians and activists, of whom have never even had decades of farming experience, one gets tired of defending their work and continuing to reiterate the need to incorporate science into it. It’s easier to read stuff off the Internet as truth and then rile up people for the cause than to produce a crop. The farmers or the 1.5% of the population have a hard time getting their message loud enough over the 99%. Who will step in for us?

I’ve got to say that I really felt saddened after hearing my dad say that today. The days where politicians did research into the issues and sometimes did what was right but against popular opinion is over. They have to listen to the loudest of folks first and foremost. Leaders no longer have the integrity to protect the folks who are doing the right thing but have the lesser number. There are some but they are far and few between because of the attacks by activists upon them.

Ten years down the line, I don’t want to have to tell my kids the story about why they can’t go down to papa’s farm. Nor do I want to tell my youngest daughter that there are no more real tractors to play on because the farm is gone. Least of all, I don’t want to have to tell my youngest why we have pictures of a farm and nothing else. I’m hoping that by doing my part, I can stop that from becoming a reality. The farm is my dad’s legacy and our family’s heritage and no one can take that away from us without a fight for truth.

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Hawaii Leaders: Let’s Work Collaboratively in Agriculture

My mind is always thinking about things, reading, learning about what’s going on, etc.  It’s always busy.  I even dream about some of the issues that go on in Hawaii.  The other night, I had a crazy, innovative thought that might really solve a lot of problems with agriculture in Hawaii.  Read on…

Remember this poll on the Star Advertiser a few weeks ago?

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Note that these polls aren’t too reliable for multiple reasons, but the fact that homelessness is a top priority on the minds of the voters is telling.  No one can ignore the fact that there are homeless everywhere throughout our entire state and it’s an eye sore as well as saddening.

In the practice of occupational therapy, we know that by engaging in meaningful activity, we can restore well being physically and mentally.  As I watch many of these folks, they appear to be functionally doing pretty well.  I see them lowering themselves down to the sidewalk, laying down on it and getting up with ease much of the time.  Some of them can pace back and forth on highway medians begging for money for hours.  Others are able to squat down for hours outside of public places looking for handouts.  There is a lot of meaningless human energy here being wasted that could really be converted into meaningful work like being on a farm and growing food.  Voila!

Why not create a community based program that combines these two issues: growing food and homelessness. For one, you’d get people off of the street and into some form of meaningful activity and work.  They could work on a farm growing food as well as have a roof over their heads.  These people will be able to receive treatment for their conditions as well as not be an eyesore in public places.  They would also be doing something good for others and themselves by growing food.  That’s beautiful to me and I know it works based from my own experiences.

As a Star Advertiser Off the News post today said, we should end the food fight, and they are right.  Rep. Jessica Wooley wants more people to grow food and to keep agricultural lands in farming, while others want to take care of the homelessness problem here.  Let’s give Rep. Wooley her farms and walk the talk by doing what she proposes to do with it.  Then other’s like Rep. Tom Brower don’t have to get frustrated with the carts and homeless people all over his district.

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From an email sent out by Jessica Wooley’s camp showing how she thinks biotech is only about the agribusiness companies.  Note that HB147 is about firearms and not about GMOs.

We all know that Rep. Wooley isn’t a local person when she only stands for the activists and their demand to only go organic.  Local style is to take all sides and work together and come to an understanding and a plan.  As she states in her letter, she doesn’t like the “status quo.” You might not like how we do things here, but you can’t just come in and tear our livelihoods apart the way your activists demand.  It’s also too bad that other locals like Rep. Kaniela Ing have jumped on this fighting attitude.  That’s not the way we do things local style.  This is our Hawaii as much it is yours, but to point a finger at us law abiding family farms is basically standing on our yards telling us how to farm.  I don’t like this and many others too.  Your letter refers to fighting, and we don’t like to fight but are forced to.

Let the farmers farm, and go start up your small sustainable farms in the country.  Do your job for agriculture and work collaboratively for the sake of everyone involved.  Be creative in your plan, not just worried about your way or the highway attitude.  Take care of people too, including the homelessness by coordinating with other committees and do it.

The farmers have had enough of your activists attacks and here’s a way to give them what they want.  The attitude needs to change from “only organic” to “how can we solve this problem together.”  I ask that we end the fight now and actually do something purposeful with your talks about growing food and be that leader to stop the attacks against the biotech farmers big and small.  The bottom line is that we need all forms of agriculture.

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Live, eat, and drink farming rather than continuing to legislate what you don’t know on, and see a whole different side of the picture.  Take the path that will lead to helping people based upon evidence for it is better than leading us into a war.  That’s what a true leader would do.  Can you be that true leader and work with everyone?

Why We Need the Hawaii Right to Farm Bill

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!

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.

An Open Letter to Hawaii Politicians about Agricultural Technology

Dear Governor, Legislators, Senators, Representatives, County Council Members, City Council Members,

I am writing to you as a daughter of a long time farmer, Kenneth Kamiya.  Our family has been long time farmers for over 4 decades on the Windward side on Oahu.  My grandfather farmed the land with beans, Okinawan potatoes, cucumbers and finally papaya, which my dad and brother continue to this day.  I am asking for your support in these contentious times of dealing with the issue of agricultural technology, specifically GMOs.

The First Kamiya Farmers

I speak out not only for our family but for all other families in our islands who use this technology to run the farms that they do.  Our state cannot afford to be left behind because of the maligned fears of the public of this technology.  You as a leader also have to be able to separate fears created by the black marketing strategies and consider the evidence that is presented.  That is your responsibility to us as your constituents, even though the farmers and ranchers make up 1-2% of the public.  Those are the voices that should ring loud and clear in your minds.

What does the evidence show us?  Worldwide, there is a consensus that biotechnology is safe.  Read below for the worldwide organizations that have made statements about biotechnology in food:

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Given this evidence, will you accept what the worldwide scientific community states?  Or will you fall prey to the fear mongering of the environmentalists and the organic industry’s tactics like this:

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The public sure has become beleaguered with fear which is evident when you see these kind of events happening across our islands:

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The same people that join in these protests are so fear mongered that they have even done this to farmers or anyone who speaks out for biotechnology:

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Activist groups too are guilty of promoting hate and crop destruction as in this meme from the Babes Against Biotech with Roseanne Barr’s quote:

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Notice how much hate there is because fear has made many people irrational already.  Ignorance is evident here in many of these comments.  And it’s not pretty to be at the receiving end of it.

We know that many of you have become the receiving end of these activists, especially the Babes Against Biotech who went after Senator Nishihara last year.  We know that many of you have also been portrayed as targets too.

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As a result, not many people want to speak out for agricultural technology here and when you do, many times, you get threats like this sent to you.  Here’s one I personally received a few days ago:

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Or you might get called a name or something, but it doesn’t bother me for I know what the truth is:

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So when leaders like you decide to reject the evidence presented, you are feeding and fueling fear.  This same fear happens because so many people have little to no knowledge about agriculture or the technology around it.  They may be loud and demanding but you must also listen to the quiet ones who toil in the fields every day.  My family like so many others are just regular people who want to have access to the tools to do the job we have at hand, which is to feed people the best way possible.

Kenneth Kamiya, my dad

Kenneth Kamiya, my dad

When it comes time to listening to your constituents, all I ask is that you listen to your most valuable ones.  The farmers!

Aloha,

Joni Rose

The Hawaii Farmer’s Daughter