Hawaii Lost Hundreds of Farms Over the Past Five YearsSustainable Agriculture

Between 2017 and 2022 Hawaii Island lost 759 farms and that trend continues today. Though elected officials from the Governor to local County Councilors all talk about the importance of agriculture, it will take more than mere lip service to chart a path to food security.  Hawaii County needs to take real action to protect family farms, promote local produce and provide the infrastructure farmers need to succeed.

On the Island of Hawaii farmers can grow nearly anything.  The combination of rain, sun and soil makes the island a perfect place for year round production.   We also have 2.5M acres of land, much of which is suitable for ranching.  So why is it less expensive to import produce from California and beef from Texas than it is to produce it here?

The Core '24 Approach to Sustainable Agriculture

Reducing Costs
It isn't just suburban residents who are burdened with the regulatory costs of housing.  Farmers also find themselves at the mercy of a fundamentally broken planning and permitting process.  Overhauling planning and permitting to make it easier to build housing, barns and processing facilities will significantly lower capital costs and risk for farm families.

These same improvements will lower housing costs overall, which in turn will lower the living wage.  Workers who pay less for housing will be able to work for lower wages overall without sacrificing quality of life.  These lower wages will, in turn, lower the costs of local farm products and make Hawaii's farms more competitive in the global marketplace.

Nearly all farms are on cesspool systems and all of them will be forced to upgrade in coming years.  Providing a robust, publicly funded cesspool conversion program will help farmers to come into compliance without breaking the bank.

Farmers are also burdened by high insurance costs.  These costs are directly tied to the high replacement cost of housing and farm structures.  Lowering the cost of new construction will also lower insurance costs and reduce monthly mortgage payments for farm families across the island.

Protecting Agritourism
When combined with agricultural activities, hosted short term rentals have proven to be an economic boon for farmers in Hawaii.  Hosting visitors on their farms allow families to access the visitor dollars while sharing their rural way of life.  Under the leadership of the Core '24 team, Hawaii County will work to preserve private property rights for farmers while codifying their right to privacy in their own homes.  Farm families who depend on renting cabins, tiny homes or ohanas to visitors will no longer have to fear reprisals from the Planning Department. 

Creating Food Hubs
One of the biggest impediments to the success of small farms is access to local markets.  Unlike agricultural regions of the mainland where there are ready markets for small farmers,  Hawaii's small  farmers are forced to negotiate one-on-one with grocers, sell directly to restaurants or find individual customers via farmer's markets.  Even the best growers on our Island struggle as a result.

The Core '24 infrastructure program includes $4M to establish and fund two privately operated food hubs on the island.  These hubs will be tasked with providing a marketplace that connects local growers with buyers like schools, restaurants and grocery stores.  The hubs will also provide logistics support to help farmers with transportation, storage and delivery.

Meat, Dairy and Poultry Processing
Under Core '24's leadership Hawaii County will also offer $2M in grant opportunities for businesses seeking to establish egg, dairy and small scale meat processing.  Waste water treatment for these facilities will be funded under the sewer services program, while transportation and market making services will fall to subsidized private food hubs.  Our island does not need or want large scale meat processing, but small local operations will create markets for local ranchers while producing quality meat, egg and dairy products for our community.