The Hate Towards Farmers Must Stop

Today there were two articles featured in Civil Beat.  One was on Senator Nishihara’s introduction to the SB110, with the Right to Farm Act provision, and the second one was one done by Ross Sibucao, a papaya farmer and Hawaii Papaya Industry Association President.

I had thought that the hateful comments would stop, boy was I wrong.  The hate and nastiness is coming out in full force against the farmers.  It’s just despicable that our leaders can’t see this or choose to ignore it.  Read on below to see what heinous things are being said.

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This is not what Hawaii agriculture needs right now.  We need leaders who will foster its growth and development.  It’s amazing to me how so many people believe the earth is changing, but then reject the same technology that can give farmers the tools to overcome this.  A recent news article shows that this is indeed a real problem that will eventually affect us.  The farmers and scientists all know this but somehow the news has missed our government leaders.

It will be more important than ever to have the latest tools available to maintain our food supplies.  When there is a drought or some other extreme weather, we’re going to have to choose what works and in many cases, it may not be organic.  Whatever the case, the most efficient and highest yielding methods must be used.  Why limit the tools now with popular opinion vs. what the data says?

As legislators, you have a responsibility to all of us to do what is right, not just to the loudest shouters and conspiracy thinkers.  Many of you were able to make that same hard decision when it was the issue of gay marriage.  You chose to look at the evidence and support the minority that needed their rights protected.  I still can’t understand why you as leaders, can’t step up and do the same for the rights of farmers.  When there are no tools available to the farmers and too many burdensome laws, will you leave that as your legacy to our islands?

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!