Subject: Jonathan Starr on Water, Land and Housing

Dear Mr Wicker,

I am writing in support of confirming Jonathan Starr's appointment to serve on the Hawaii State Commission on Water Resource Management.

Greenleaf Farm supports Governor Abercrombie's appointment of Jonathan Starr, a man who has spent a lifetime in support of local food growers.
We appreciate the wisdom of appointing a man who has years of experience both in the fields with traditional Hawaiian agriculture
and in the offices of government while serving on boards.

My wife and I own  and operate Greenleaf Farm on Maui.  We are deeply involved with local agriculture with our own farm, with the
gardens in schools movement, with farmers markets, with Slow Food Inc,  with Whole Foods and Mana Foods and with Hawaii
Farmers Union United. 

In Hawaii and across the globe local agriculture is emerging as a necessity for people that are struggling to feed themselves and those that they love.
A passion for the process is also emerging and a new community is growing among the people who realize that improved health and well being is
a product of growing and eating local food that is grown through regenerative agriculture.  

Greenleaf Farm is blessed and grateful to be a member of that emerging community.  Jonathan Starr's background and commitment to the future of Hawaiian
Agriculture make him a wonderful appointee to serve on the Hawaii State Commission on Water Resource Management.

Sincerely and with Aloha,
Bill and Marta Greenleaf
Greenleaf Farm
Hawaii Farmers Union United
Slow Food Inc
 
 
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  

 
 
 Legislation would aid local beekeepers in getting their honey to market

January 28, 2012  By ILIMA LOOMIS - Staff Writer (iloomis@mauinews.com) , The Maui News

WAILUKU - Local beekeepers could have more freedom to sell their honey under legislation proposed by Kahului Rep. Gil Keith-Agaran.

Under current health codes, beekeepers who wish to sell their product commercially must process it in a certified kitchen using county water. But that's not possible for farmers in remote areas not served by the public water system, noted Keith-Agaran.

He said his legislation would not only provide economic benefits by supporting the producers of local honey but would also promote beekeeping and protect the island's supply of healthy honeybees, which are critical pollinators of other agricultural crops.

Keith-Agaran noted that bee populations on Oahu and the Big Island have been damaged by varroa mites and other pests, while Maui so far seems to have healthy bees.

"People are worried about honeybees," he said. "We've got to do things that'll allow people with hives to continue to operate."

His proposal, House Bill 1787, would exempt beekeepers who don't have access to municipal water from the certified kitchen requirement, as long as they prepare the honey next to hand-washing facilities and use water that has been treated to potable standards. The legislation would also exempt home-based beekeepers who produce less than 500 gallons of honey a year.

The bill was introduced Jan. 13 by Keith-Agaran and eight other legislators, including Maui Reps. Angus McKelvey and Kyle Yamashita. The House Agriculture Committee voted 10-0 on Friday to recommend that it be passed with amendments. The bill is also pending before the House Health and Finance committees.

Kaupo landowner Jonathan Starr said he hoped the legislation would open the door for more beekeepers to sell their honey legitimately.

Starr and his wife, Helen Nielsen, took up beekeeping when they received a hive about four years ago. After reading about bee die-offs around the world, they decided to expand their colony, and now they tend 35 hives on their East Maui farm.

"We get really wonderful honey," he said.

Starr said they began selling their product to a handful of local gourmet and health food stores but were told to stop by the state Department of Health because they were not using a certified kitchen.

Starr said he was told that regulators could not certify his private water system, even though he treats his drinking water to potable standards, and that he would not even be allowed to truck in municipal water unless he completely disconnected his private water source and used only the imported water at his property.

The only other option provided to him was to remove the frames from his hives, transport them off the property to a certified kitchen, and extract the honey there - something Starr was not willing to do.

"That's how parasites and diseases spread" among bee colonies, he said.

Starr said the strict requirements didn't make sense, especially since honey is naturally antiseptic and kills bacteria, and no water is added to the honey during processing.

The only water that is needed for the process is used to wash hands and equipment, he said.

"You're not adding water, and even if, theoretically, through improper cleaning of the implements, any bacteria is introduced, it will die," he said.

Starr said he and Nielsen have been limited to selling their honey at craft fairs and giving it away to friends. He said the proposed legislation would enable beekeepers like him to extract and bottle their honey at the apiary, allowing them to increase the population of healthy honeybees on Maui.

"There is a great demand for local raw honey," he said, noting that there's evidence that eating honey that comes from local pollens can be beneficial to people who suffer from allergies.

"All of the honey that could be raised on Maui would be sold on Maui," he said. "It would replace inferior imported honey, and this legislation would make that possible."

* Ilima Loomis can be reached at iloomis@mauinews.com.

 
 
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS January 5, 2012, 11:45AM ET 

Hawaii Farmers Union recognized by National Farmer's Union
HONOLULU

The Hawaii Farmers Union, which represents small family farmers in the islands, has been recognized as a subdivision of the National Farmers Union.

The national union said Wednesday its board recently voted to approve the move.

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson says his organization is pleased with the Hawaii group's hard work and looks forward to working with them to help it grow.

The organization says the Hawaii Farmers Union will continue to advocate for policies that benefit family farmers and ensure the people of Hawaii have more access to locally grown and organic produce.

The Hawaii Farmers Union has more than 300 members. Many also belong to the Hawaii Farm Bureau, the Hawaii Aquaculture and Aquaponics Association and other local, farm associations.

Businessweek.com article.  
 
 
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