Bills offer support to new generation of farmers

All of us interested in food self-sufficiency need to get behind the Legislature. Hawaii imports 92 percent of its food. There is a huge push to grow more food that is affordable. The problem is the lack of farmers, food production and the means to materialize those two items.

We need to support a new generation of farmers, and HB 749 and SB 681 aim to make this a reality. Please support these bills in our Legislature because they are working on establishing food security task forces that will analyze our problem and come up with a solution.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture reports that in 2010, total value of crops grown in Hawaii was $597 million. Of that amount, $247.2 million was seed (mostly tax-exempt genetically modified organism exports), $69.8 million in sugar (export), $33.44 million in coffee (largely export), $30 million in mac nuts (mostly export) and $75 million in flowers (nonedible). It turns out that the edible crop value in 2010, including fruit and vegetable exports, was valued at $50 million. This means out of all crop value in 2010 (including exports), 8.3 percent of it was edible. Taro production was valued at $2.5 million, or half of 1 percent of the value of Hawaii’s total agricultural production.

Sugar and GMOs are over 50 percent of the crop value produced in Hawaii. We need to change the way we farm and we need locally grown food we can afford.

Simon Russell