Tag Archives: Farming

Farming in the Wild West?

Richard Ha writes:

The Hamakua Coast is becoming the Wild Wild West.

A stop sign on Highway 19 is shot full of holes.

Stop sign

Someone cut through our iron gate with a torch just recently.

Gate

They left a flashlight (by accident?)

Flashlight

We're installing camouflaged infrared monitors at different places on the farm.

Our neighbors at the quarry had fuel stolen and their surveillance camera stolen.

Many farmers are reporting product and equipment stolen.

It's not easy being a farmer.

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What We Learned From Hurricane Iselle

Richard Ha writes:

There are a lot of things we can learn from the hurricane we just went through.

People saw what needed to be done on the ground and they just did it. Trees needed to be cut, so they cut them. Neighbors needed food and ice, so people got them food and ice. People saw the situations that were problems and they took care of them.

This is a good analogy for what we farmers want to do now. We have been dragged into a battle, and all we want to do is get back to providing food for people. We’re farmers. We want to grow things and feed people. We don’t want to be involved in lawsuits and philosophical battles.

What’s happened is that the Center for Food Safety, and Earth Justice, which is the Sierra Club’s legal arm, are fighting against farmers. We farmers are asking for clarity on this anti-GMO bill. We’re saying tell us what the rules are so we can go back to farming. But those two are fighting against us, so we can’t do that.

Here’s an analogy. It’s as if after the hurricane they said: Yeah, we see all the albizia trees are down, but we want you to focus on something that’s happening in the Midwest, or in India.

Those aren’t local problems.

Or it’s like they were saying, Yeah, we see all the trees down, but you can’t use chainsaws because they’re dangerous. You’ve got to use axes, because they’re natural.

We’re saying, look, we’ve got to use chainsaws. We’ve got to help people.

It’s really that simple. We farmers are spending too much time on all that other stuff and we really just want to get back to farming.

When the Association of Counties asked me to talk about climate change and how the farmer looks at it, I quoted Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He talks about climate change being the guy and his dog walking down the beach. The man walking straight down the beach is the climate, and the dog running back and forth is the weather.

The climate is the policy kind of stuff, and hopefully the climate people make the right decisions.

We farmers deal with the weather. If there’s a storm, or an insect, we deal with it. We’ve got to concentrate on growing food. Otherwise, we end up trying to make policy, and we’re not scientists. We’re farmers. 

We just want to get back to farming.

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It’s About How Fast You Get Back Up

Richard Ha writes:

This letter from Glenn Teves, who is a Moloka‘i extension agent, is full of good, practical advice for new farmers. Over the years I've found that going to your extension agent is usually the best place to start.

It's out of the Hawai‘i Homegrown Food Network newsletter, July 2014.

Letter to Sonny – Creating a Farm Business

WRITTEN BY GLENN TEVES ON 27 JUNE 2014.

In farming, the real test when you fall down is how fast you get up and move forward. Below is a letter I wrote to a Hawaiian homesteader several years ago. He was interested in farming, but for some reason he had a difficult time understanding what he needed to do in order to create a farm business, and also wasn’t realistic about his goals. He was looking for solutions such as setting up a farm to teach others how to farm without having a basic knowledge of farming, or networking with others to get his farm started when he didn’t have any production.

I really had to write everything down to help him understand without dampening his enthusiasm and spirit. I think it may help anyone who’s interested in farming. There are many concepts to grasp, including a few doses of reality along the way. Here it is:

Dear Sonny,

I write this to you to help you focus and see the steps you need to take in order to create a farm business. In life, you need to crawl before you can walk. There’s so much to know, and you cannot ‘skip grades’; you have to start at kindergarten. You have to be diligent in learning all you can by studying, and you have to go at it with both eyes open. Most farmers in Hawaii farm part-time because they cannot earn enough money on their farm, and they also want to have medical coverage for their family. Parttime farming is also a growing trend in the nation.

Motivation

There are certain attributes that must be in place in order to be successful in farming. One is the willingness and motivation to farm and to overcome any adversity. We cannot supply this because it comes from deep within you. If you’re easily discouraged, farming is not for you. This stick-to-it-ness is important especially when things don’t go the way you expected. When the going gets rough, the tough get going. In farming, the real test when you fall down is how fast you get up and move forward.

Break It Down

Gerry Ross and Janet Simpson of Kupa'a Farms, Maui. Farming is hard work and there’s a sequence to things. One thing I’ve learned is I try to focus on a few things at a time because if I try to see the whole picture, it becomes so overwhelming….

Great article. Read the rest here.

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Why Organic & Conventional Farmers Need Each Other

Richard Ha writes:

Let me tell you why I keep saying that farmers here on the Big Island and in Hawai‘i need to work together and stop fighting with each other. Organic, hydroponic, conventional, big farmers, small farmers: We need to find ways to coexist.

Hardcore folks think coexisting is a loaded term. Some of them say there’s no way we can coexist, because somebody will always win and somebody will lose. But that’s bogus to me.

There is something very different here in Hawai‘i that I think many people don’t really understand. We are not farming on the mainland. We are farming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, in a humid, sub-tropical climate where there is no winter.

In Minnesota and Iowa and all, winter wipes out the diseases and the insects and gets farmers back to “start-over” condition.

It couldn’t be more different here. We can grow food year-round in Hawai‘i, but our insects and diseases grow year-round, too. We use much more energy than a mainland farmer to produce our crops, because we are always having to fight insects and diseases. This is just reality. We have to rely on different methods here, many of them dependent on energy that only gets more and more expensive, and all of this increases our costs.

So both organic and conventional farmers in Hawai‘i are at a disadvantage. And we need to work together to lower each other’s costs, not fight about methods and labels and all that.

What is our end goal? Growing more food here, right? Not less food. And not discouraging the next generation of farmers from going into the business.

Here’s another reality: It’s often our younger folks that lean toward organics, and they are very dedicated. But because they are young and at the start of their careers, they’re not in a position to pay those increased costs, which are significant.

This article from The Packer, the nation’s primary produce industry newspaper, says just that: That organics are growing in popularity, especially with people with higher educations and incomes. They write that younger people’s preference for organics are also increasing, but that they have budgetary concerns.

…The organic demographic is changing, said Patrick Stewart, operations manager for Earl’s Organic Produce, San Francisco.

“From a trending perspective, wealthy, affluent people have the means to trend toward organic,” he said, but as organic produce becomes more available and more affordable, its popularity is trickling down to base consumers.

The bottom line is that the growth of the organic sector will be largely dependent on narrowing the differences in cost between organic and conventional farming. If we can work together and find ways to make those retail prices closer together, then of course people will choose organic.

But how do we do that?

Large corporations such as Earthbound Organics are about to start, for instance, producing single-serving organic salad kits. It is very unlikely that any organic food producer on the Big Island will be able to compete successfully with a corporation like Earthbound.          

Also from the Packer:

…Earthbound, recently acquired for $600 million by Denver-based WhiteWave Foods, plans to move “aggressively” into the organic bowl salad kit and single-serve, ready-to-eat salad kit categories, Yost said at the conference. There is potential as well, leveraging WhiteWave resources, for expansion in juices and healthy snacks.

We farmers have to help each other get all of our costs down. It’s what will keep us in farming. And it will improve the Big Island’s food security (being able to get adequate and sufficient food) and move us further toward our goal of increased food self-sufficiency (growing what we need right here at home).

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The GMO Skeptic’s Reading List

Richard Ha writes:

It can be hard to get a handle on GMOs if you haven’t studied the issue. Some GMOs opponents jump up and down and talk loud, but it’s interesting that when Seeds of Hope surveyed people who came to their screenings (and had, therefore, self-selected re: interest in sustainability), they found that GMOs came in last on a list of top five concerns – below “food security” (#1) and “difficulties faced by local farmers” (#3).

You don’t have to believe what we farmers say about GMOs. We’re not scientists. We look at farming needs, toss in some common sense, and then come to our decisions.

But here’s a good place to start gathering some background about the topic. Here are three people who started out skeptical about GMOs, looked into the issues carefully and thoroughly, and then found themselves coming to a different conclusion. It’s a good way to learn about some of the questions about GMOs, and how to investigate them.

Mark Lynas was one of the founders of the anti-GMO movement. And then, as he educated himself more, he realized he was wrong. In this video, he explains that he has totally changed his mind about GMOs, his original position was not scientifically based, and he now completely regrets it.

“I want to start with some apologies….For the record, here and upfront, I want to apologize for having spent several years ripping up GMO crops. I’m also sorry I helped start the anti-GM movement back in the ’90s, and that I thereby assisted in demonizing an important technological option that can and should be used to benefit the environment. As an environmentalist, and someone who believes that everyone in this world has a right to a healthy and nutritious diet of their choosing, I could not have chosen a more counterproductive path and I now regret it completely….”

The video is called “Mark Lynas on his conversion to supporting GMOs – Oxford Lecture on Farming.” Watch it here to learn why he changed his mind. (In short, he says he “discovered science.”)

Nathanael Johnson wrote The Genetically Modified Food Debate: Where Do We Begin? for Grist, which is often critical of GMOs.

My goal here is to get past the rhetoric, fully understand the science, and take the high ground in this debate — in the same way that greens have taken the high ground in talking about climate. It’s hard to make the case that we should trust science and act to stem global warming, while at the same time we are scoffing at the statements [PDF] of *snort* scientists on genetic modification.

Now that doesn’t mean we have to stop thinking, and simply accept everything that the voice of authority lays in front of us. I’m going to look at the science critically, and take into account the efforts of agricultural corporations to cant the evidence. When Mark Lynas made his speech saying that he’d changed his mind about genetic engineering, I was unconvinced, because he didn’t dig into the evidence (he provides a little more of this, though not much, in his book). Lynas did, however, make one important point: There are parallels between opposition to GM crops and other embarrassingly unscientific conspiracy theories. If there are grounds to oppose genetic engineering, they will have to be carefully considered grounds, supported by science….

If you’re interested, Johnson’s piece has lots of links to explore this subject further.

Mother Jones magazine is usually hostile to GMOs, which makes this article by Indre Viskontas about how GMOs are not dangerous to human health even more surprising.

No, GMOs Won’t Harm Your Health

For this week’s episode of Inquiring Minds, I spoke with Dr. Steven Novella, a neurologist at Yale University. Novella is a prominent voice in the skeptical movement, a scientific movement that, as he describes it, focuses heavily on explaining the truth behind “common myths—things that people believe that aren’t true.” So I asked him to help sort out fact from fiction when it comes to industrial agriculture in general—and GMOs in particular.

“Almost everything I hear about [industrial agriculture] is a myth,” says Novella. “It’s such an emotional issue—a highly ideological and politicized issue—that what I find is that most of what people write and say and believe about it just fits into some narrative, some worldview. And it’s not very factual or evidence-based.”

So where does Novella think the public is misinformed?…

These former skeptics offer up a lot of information for the discerning, science-minded individual who wants to learn more about using biotech solutions for our food sustainability.

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Busy Week: Speaking, Sponsoring & Aerial Photography

Richard Ha writes:

It’s been a busy week.

It started out with my being part of a panel discussion for the Ulumau IX class.

This was the 9th class of the Hawaiʻi Island Leadership Series called Ulumau, which was founded by Mark McGuffie in 2003. It has its roots firmly planted in the core values of Hawaiian Values, Community and Servant Leadership.

Unlike a traditional “leadership” class, where attendees are usually taught how to “manage” people, Ulumau expands the ranks of community leadership by providing a broad range of leaders (both existing and emerging) who have the knowledge and incentive to confront the needs of our specific community.

There were five of us on the panel. Jeff Melrose gave an overview of agriculture and what different types of farming are happening where on the Big Island. Everyone should see his presentation, which gives the context in which agriculture exists on the Big Island.

Nancy Redfeather talked about the school garden network and the many other outreach events she is involved in. She touches a large group of people. Other speakers were Elizabeth Cole, deputy director of the Kohala Center, and Amanda Rieux, who leads the culinary garden, the Mala‘ai Garden, at Waimea Middle School.

I talked about agriculture and energy, and how they are inextricably tied together. I also explained about how food security involves farmers farming, and that if the farmer makes money the farmer will farm.

I am helping to sponsor students in the Sustainable Hawaii Youth Leadership Initiative (SHYLI). This group’s mission is “to inspire young people to envision, plan and create a more sustainable future for their lives and their island.”

The students I’m sponsoring are Sherry Anne Pancho and KaMele E. Sanchez, who were both Big Island delegates to the Stone Soup Leadership Institute's 9th Annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development conference on Martha’s Vineyard this summer. They came by the farm a few days ago to give a presentation of their project on hydroponic food production.

This is something I can help with, and I will track and write about their progress. I am very interested in supporting our next generation leaders as they work on ways to continue and improve our food security through changing and difficult times.

A crew from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo came by the farm to test an unmanned aerial vehicle. “Flight Control” was in the back of the pickup, where the screen was, so we could see what the camera was viewing.

Banana Survey 4

They set up a GPS coordinate, and the little six-bladed chopper flew the route as directed by the program. It was set up to fly parallel, overlapping camera runs until our whole banana field was filmed. Then they will make the recording into one large map.

Besides doing a photographic imaging, they ran a light spectrum recording. The value of seeing our banana plants from the air in different light spectrums is that we will be able to see where plants are stressed and take corrective action. The possibilities are immense. This is so interesting to me.

All three of these things that happened this week had to do with the future. I’m not only thinking of our farm and profit from day-to-day; it’s much bigger than all that. It’s the future – of Big Island farming, of our people, of our island.

Sometimes looking forward is actually about looking to and learning about how we used to do things, and I will continue to write posts about what I’m doing in those areas. And sometimes, it’s looking at new technologies and ways. Always it’s about talking with the young people coming up, so we can share what we know and discuss some of the challenges they are going to be facing.

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The Cost of Farming

Richard Ha writes:

Now that the GMO discussion has stabilized, let’s move forward.

There is a big picture here that is not being discussed. In the coming weeks, I will be writing about various input costs of farming, because as costs go up we need to be planning and preparing. 

Today I want to discuss what farming looks like from a farmer’s point of view. 

Farmers were shocked back in 2008 when the cost of nitrogen fertilizer spiked. Ammonia is a key component for making nitrogen fertilizer, as well as plastics and pesticides, and the cost of ammonia is highly correlated with the price of natural gas.

Impact of Rising Natural Gas Prices on U.S. Ammonia Supply

Natural gas is the primary raw material used to produce ammonia. Approximately 33 million British thermal units (mm Btu) of natural gas are needed to produce 1 ton of ammonia. Natural gas accounts for 72-85 percent of the ammonia production cost, depending on the size of the ammonia plant and the price of ammonia (TFI (a)). Ammonia prices were weakly correlated with natural gas prices before 2000, but became strongly correlated after 2000….  Read the rest

Natural gas had been cheap, but its cost started rising and, in 2008, it reached $12/thousand cubic feet (mcf). I addressed the State Farm Bureau convention and told the farmers it was not their fault that fertilizer and input costs had risen so much and that their costs were suddenly so high.

After 2008, the price of natural gas declined dramatically because of shale oil and shale gas production. It dropped below $3/mcf. Right now it’s slightly higher, a little over $4/mcf,  because of winter home heating. 

So we’ve seen the effects of high natural gas prices on farming input before, back in 2008, and we know it will go up again.

What exactly is the outlook for the price of natural gas and therefore fertilizer, plastics and pesticide costs?

On the mainland, thousands of wells produce natural gas. Keep in mind, though, that the average gas well produces 90 percent of its total production – 90 percent of everything it’s going to ever produce – in its first five years. In contrast, Saudi Arabia oil fields have lasted for more than 50 years.

It’s only common sense that natural gas prices are going to rise, and therefore our farming input costs will go even higher. The only question is how fast and how high?

Coming up I’ll write about what people are predicting, as far as when prices will go up and how high they will go.

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Room With a View

Richard Ha writes:

This is the view from my “office” window.

View

I took it from the air-conditioned cab of my bulldozer, where I can even charge my iPhone. I was on a conference call yesterday while I was in the middle of clearing some brush that we are going to replace with something more productive. Not bad, huh?
Bamboo

We’re busy putting our marginal lands into production. While we’re at it, we need to provide safety barriers using dual-use plants and trees. We need to protect the streams by preventing erosion and runoff over the long term. If we can accomplish this with plants that provide food, so much the better.

On the land surrounding the hydro generator, we want to highlight the modern and the ancient. The hydro generator represents the modern, and the plants the Polynesian navigators brought with them in their canoes are of particular interest to me.

Being a banana farmer, I am familiar with the cooking bananas, the mai‘a maoli and the mai‘a popoulu. The mai‘a maoli produced a large, heavy bunch. I remember thinking, I would have put that in the canoe as well. The mai‘a popoulu was probably a backup. It was susceptible to wind and not very strong, relative to competition from grasses, etc.

Anybody have those varieties? I don’t see them aroundanymore. They succumbed to the fusarium wilt, like the Bluefield bananas did in the 50s. That caused the world banana trade to shift to the Cavendish type of banana, which are starting to succumb to another race of the fusarium wilt. That is the biggest threat overhanging the world banana industry today.

More pictures from my bulldozer. That’s bamboo in the distance. It’s less than three years old, and I’m guessing it’s 60-plus feet tall and 5 feet in diameter now. That’s with only two applications of fertilizer.

We have ‘opae in this healthy stream on our farm.

All the rose apple trees on Wai‘a‘ama Stream succumbed to a fungus a short time ago. We are going to plant other trees here, which will keep invasive species down and also help to keep the river cool.

This soil was fallow after a banana crop, and as I was walking along I saw earthworms. Healthy soil.

(I videotaped an earthworm!)

I am fascinated by our Hawaiian ancestors’ ability to survive, well, in a world without draft animals and metals.

I’m planning to write more about all this from a farmer’s point of view.

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If The Farmers Make Money, The Farmers Will Farm

Richard Ha writes:

Though there are 820,000 acres of farmland on our agriculture-based Big Island, our island’s farmers were not consulted when Bill
113, the anti-GMO bill, was drafted.

There is no question: Bill 113 will harm the livelihood of Big Island farmers. It also means they will have to use more pesticides. It will drive up their costs and make them much less competitive. It means our island will be less food-secure.

Is this what we really want? Call or write your councilperson and tell him or her to kill Bill 113.

Ask him or her to create a task force so we can thoughtfully determine our way forward, in the spirit of aloha – so we can provide affordable food for the rubbah slippah folks and move toward food self-sufficiency.

When new biotech seeds are developed, people will be able to buy small packets of them over the Internet. But not here. Bill 113 will make it a crime for Big Island farmers to use those same seeds. Farmers using those seeds, which will make farming less pesticide-oriented and more affordable, would become criminals.

Such seeds are being developed right now by the University of Hawai‘i and other universities and will help our crops become virus- and disease-resistant. This will result in less pesticide usage and lower cost. With Bill 113, only Big Island farmers will be banned from using them. This will force Big Island farmers to use more pesticides than farmers off-island. Farmers are responsible stewards of the land, and this is a depressing and discouraging thought for Big Island farmers.

More than 90 percent of the food grown on the Big Island is
grown by conventional farmers. Bill 113 will drive their farming costs up, not down, and this is going to discourage farmers from farming. When farmers’ costs go up, they are less able to pass those increased costs on. Farmers are “price takers,” rather than “price makers.”

As costs go up, farming becomes less attractive and fewer farmers continue to farm. Bill 113 makes the Big Island less food-secure.

Organic farmers elsewhere will benefit from new biotech animal feed crops, because these will increase the source of manure for
composting. Nitrogen is important for protein and this is a crucial weak link for organic farmers. Bill 113 means organic farmers on the Big Island won’t have these benefits that other farmers will.

There are people that want to believe GMO crops are not safe, but they are ignoring the evidence. The science. All the world’s major health organizations endorse the use of GMO crops as safe.

More than two trillion meals made of foods containing GMOs
have been served over the last 20 years. In spite of all those meals, here in Hawai‘i we have the longest life expectancy in the nation for those 65 years and older.

Since ancient times, farmers in Hawai‘i have been respected in the Hawaiian culture. Bill 113 will forever change that relationship and will, instead, criminalize farmers. Some folks may even feel justified in taking matters into their own hands. Is this really what we want?

Please contact your councilperson and tell them you want them to kill Bill 113 and form a task force to carefully, intelligently study how we move forward.

It’s not a matter of who is right. It is a matter of what is right.

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We Are Unwilling To Be Led To The Slaughter

Richard Ha writes:

I was part of a four-person panel at the recent GMO Summit. I was spokesperson for the farmer group that organized a convoy around the County building a short time ago. The others were

  • Kamana Beamer, who gave the cultural perspective, which is the long term view of things
  • Hector Valenzuela, who presented a negative view of biotechnology
  • Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, who gave a pro-GMO point-of-view.

Three of the speakers, then, all coming from different perspectives, were pro-GMO. I will ask the speakers if they are willing to give a synopsis of their presentation, and if so, I will post them here.

As farmers, our primary concern is that banning the use of GMOs only on Hawai‘i Island, while allowing them to be used on the other Hawaiian islands, will slowly but surely drive us out of business. We are unwilling to be led to the slaughter.

Here is what I presented at the GMO Summit:

Aloha. I am Richard Ha. Although we have a farm, I am here today as a representative of Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United. This is a spontaneous farmer group that recently organized a convoy of more than 50 cattle, papaya and other farm trucks, as well as nearly 200 farmers, around the County building. It consists of the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, the Big Island Banana Growers Association, the Big Island Cattlemen’s Council, the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association and various Farm Bureau chapters.

In all my time in farming, I have never seen farmers so united and concerned about one issue. Why are they so concerned? Because they feel their survival is at stake.

Farmers are price takers, not price makers, and when the cost of energy quadrupled in the last 10 years, we farmers could not increase our prices to cover the increase in cost. We know how vulnerable we are to rising oil prices. The anti-GMO bill takes away future cost-saving tools for farming.

Here’s a reality check on growing food.

Hawai‘i is located in the humid subtropics and it is a weed, bug and plant-disease paradise. We have no winter here to help us kill off bugs.

Farmers are not pesticide-crazed sprayers of toxic chemicals. They use cost-effective solutions to the pest problems of their particular crops. They use what’s least toxic, because they don’t want to harm themselves. They don’t overspray, because that wastes money. Farmers have common sense.

When we send farmers into battle against the pests, don’t shoot arrows at their backs. When we send them into battle against pests that use cannons, don’t send them out with swords and clubs.

If we do not want the large biotech companies to grow corn for seed, then write a bill that prohibits that. If we do not want GMO foods at all, then start with corn flakes and soda and ban those.

Consider these facts:

  • Hawai‘i imports more than 85 percent of its food. That’s almost all of our food.
  • Hawaii uses oil to generate more than 70 percent of its electricity. The U.S. mainland, which is both our supplier and our competitor, uses oil for only 2 percent of its electricity – so its costs are not skyrocketing from rising oil prices as much as ours are.
  • The price of oil has quadrupled in the last 10 years, and will probably go higher.
  • As oil prices rise, Hawai‘i becomes less and less food secure.

These are the realities that Big Island farmers face every day. We must be one of the least food secure places in the world.

“Food security” means being able to get adequate and sufficient food, regardless of where it comes from. These days, it comes from all over the world. We are able to buy food from all over because money comes into our economy from the outside, with military spending and tourism being primary contributors. That provides us with money to pay for general services to our society and to buy our food.

Food security involves farmers farming. If the farmer makes money, the farmers will farm. And if the farmers make money, then their products will be competitive with imported foods. And that will mean lower cost foods for all.

Try to encourage those things that gives our farmers a competitive advantage. Leverage our sun that shines all year long. Don’t ban GMO corn that can give our cattle ranchers a fighting chance.

Maybe we can grow the grain that will encourage poultry farms and fish, too.

If we had poultry and cattle manure, our organic farmers would have a nitrogen source that could help them produce food for a profit.

Let’s all sit down and talk. Farmers are not the enemy.

In the 1800s, our Hawaiian population went from an estimated 700,000 to 50,000. We almost went extinct.

I’m sure they would have used new technology vaccines if they had been available.

Farmers have looked at all sides of the argument and have come down on the side of peer-reviewed science.

I would like to make one farmer observation about pesticides. The
dose makes the poison.
Margaret Wille said she wants to ban the use of Roundup. Senator Ruderman introduced a bill to ban Roundup last session.

Let’s say there is a four-foot patch of weeds that one wants to control using Roundup. The amount of spray needed, which is already diluted 50-1 with water, is less than the thickness of a piece of typing paper. By contrast, rainfall in one year at Pepe‘ekeo
would result in a column of water 10 feet high over that spot. As I said, the dose makes the poison.

Previous to Roundup, farmers here used Paraquat, which is a skull-and-crossbones grass poison.

We don’t want to go back to that. We need a little bit of common sense here.

Here are three areas of concern to farmers:

  1. Farmers on the other islands would be able to use new biotech seeds, while Big Island farmers would not. I just saw where a British researcher said he developed a technique that would give every plant the ability to fix nitrogen from air. But if other
    islands could use it and we could not, this would eventually put Big Island farmers out of business. The Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus (TSWV)  threatens the State’s tomato industry, and there is a biotech solution that is ready to be implemented. Again, if other islands can use it while while Big Islanders cannot, this will eventually drive Big Island tomato farmers out of business.
  2. Under Brenda Ford’s bill, papaya and GMO corn farmers and ranchers have 30 months to get out of those crops or they risk 30 days in jail. Making criminals of farmers is just beyond belief.
  3. It isn’t the strongest or smartest that survive, but the ones that can adapt to change. This saying is attributed to Charles Darwin.

Although the bills by Ford and Wille might seem new and different and brave, below the surface they both prevent adapting to change. And that is one of the main reasons why farmers are against both attempts to prevent the planting of bioengineered
plants.

Farmers and ranchers have an abundance of common sense. My dad was a farmer. He only went to the sixth grade, but when I was 10 years old, he told me: “Find two solutions for every problem and then find one more just in case.”

He said, There are thousand reasons why no can. I looking for the one reason why CAN adapt to change.

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