Hawaii State Legislative sessions have new watchdogs this year.  Glenn Martinez and Natalie Cash spoke at the hearings for the many farmers who cannot attend.  Through the data base of HFUU, Glenn and Natalie were able to hear the voice of their membership and represent local growers. 
www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/Bills/SB2027_.HTM  is an alternative bill written in plain English, by farmers with the intent of creating a Food Safety Bill that stands on education of farmers and consumers.  HB2027 contains self audit components and 3rd party certification audits.  HB2027 did not move out of committee because the farmers are too inexperienced with legislative processes.  

Now, Glenn and Natalie have put out an alarm on the final day of the first half.  HB1947 is a bill that is titled "Food Safety": www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session2012/Bills/HB1947_HD1_.pdf 
HB1947 cites the cantaloupe outbreak as a reason for the need.  The outbreak they cite was a large scale industrialized agriculture operation.  Local growers in Hawaii don’t have large risks. This bill has all kinds of mumbo jumbo language that will cause public officials to come down hard on the reporting requirements of local growers.  That is a direct threat to an industry we need to encourage to grow, an industry we need to celebrate not a group we need to pile more costs onto their backs.

Nearly 100% of the people who testified in front of the Ag Committee and in front of the Finance Committee spoke strongly against HB1947.  Unfortunately,  HB1947 was passed on for consideration in the Hawaii Senate.

Hawaii Farmers Union United is the voice of local agriculture, small scale agriculture, indigenous agriculture and the voice of people who care about eating fresh and nutrient dense food.  Local agriculture represents Food Security and Food Sovereignty.  Laws such as HB1947 are a direct threat to the growth of the most important industry in Hawaii – Agriculture.

Contact us at:  
HawaiiFarmersUnionUnited.org
Bill Greenleaf
Greenleaf Farm
Hawaii Farmers Union United Treasurer
 
 
Feb. 12, 2012 letter to the editor of the Honolulu Star Advertiser

State will not leave small farms out to dry.

A recent Island Voices column ("Hawaii needs locally designed food safety program," Star-Advertiser, Feb. 1) expressed a growing apprehension that new food safety regulations were poised to harm small farms.
  The recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) by Congress has germinated fears that overzealous food safety regulations and expensive sanitary controls could leave the little guys out to dry. The Abercrombie administration won't let that happen.
  The state Department of Health will administer the federal FSMA program when the Food and Drug Administration issues rules. These rules will likely exempt small farmers from anything more than registering their farms and keeping records of their crop sales.
  Larger farms could be required to keep more detailed records and will be inspected to assure that proper sanitary facilities, like hand-washing sinks, are provided for farm workers.
  Both the state departments of Health and Agriculture are keenly aware that the majority of farms in Hawaii are small, and we will protect our farmers from unwarranted and excessive regulation. We want our islands to grow more of what we eat and rely less on imported food.
  During this legislative session, no new farm safety laws or rules are needed to further our food sustainability goals. States will have at least two years to develop our food safety programs once the FDA adopts its FSMA rules.
  Gary Gill        gary.gill@DOH.Hawaii.gov
Deputy director for environmental health, state Health Department