On Monday, Gov. Neil Abercrombie notified the State Legislature of his intent to veto 23 measures in which he finds either policy disagreement, issues with the details of the legislation, and/or unfunded mandates.
On that list of measures was House Bill 667. The bill would establish a food safety and security program within the Department of Agriculture to provide training, certification, support, and assistance to the agricultural industry in the areas of food safety and security.
House Bill 667 was a hot topic at The Hawaii Independent‘s “Feeding the Future” forum on Sunday.
Farmers and restaurant owners described how even the current food safety certification process alienates small farmers from participating in Hawaii’s food and ag industry. The demands and costs to obtain the required certifications are more fit for large operations and unreasonable for small farmers. The food safety rules are also more of a concern for large supermarkets, and not small scale stores or restaurants.
We’ll be able to hear more about this once our recording of the “Feeding the Future” forum is edited and posted online.
The Hawaii Farmer’s Union states on its petition: “After examining the bill and considering the likely consequences of its passage, we have developed a deep concern that it will negatively effect local farmers and the consumers relying on them to supply healthy food.”
While House Bill 667 is supported by corresponding State departments and other organizations, there is an overwhelming, and often unheard voice of concern in the mainstream media from those who will be leading Hawaii’s future in feeding ourselves.
There appears to be a conflicting message being sent to Hawaii’s farmers. Our lawmakers say they recognized the need for agriculture, but the measures they support alienate local small farmers in favor of larger operations that function on exporting cash crops.
To catch up on the evolution of any of the bills currently being considered by the governor, take a few minutes to read through the testimonies as well as the Committee reports. Being mindful of the dates that they were submitted, they provide insight into what shapes our lawmakers’s decisions.