U.S. Senate candidate John Carroll praised Gov. David Ige Tuesday for setting a new target date for doubling Hawaii’s food production, in a statement issued on Carroll’s social media accounts. Doubling Hawaii’s food production by 2020 was one of Gov. Ige’s major 2014 campaign pledges.

Referring to the Sept. 11 Honolulu Star-Advertiser article that broke the story, Carroll said “Governor Ige did the right thing by postponing his campaign pledge of doubling food production in Hawaii by 2020. I also compliment Director Enright for being sensible regarding Hawaii’s food production capability and for not trying to pretend it is better or achievable under current economic circumstances.”

But, the niceties stop there.

“Hawaii has no dairies, hatcheries, piggeries, or any truly viable agricultural component that can be profitable through export,” Carroll said, “a direct result of imposition of Jones Act restrictions.” And, even though Hawaii is home to acres of fertile land and virtually unrestricted agricultural growth potential, Carroll says that without legislative intervention Hawaii may meet the same fate as Puerto Rico.

An attorney and longtime vocal advocate for amending the 1920 Jones Act restrictions on Hawaii imports and exports, Carrollpreviously filed two lawsuits against the federal government on the issue, yet still to no avail.

“Unfortunately, there are still far too few voting citizens who are unaware of the debilitating impact the Jones Act restrictions imposed on Hawaii,” Carroll said.

Yet, without placing blame, Carroll is pointing a finger.

As far back as 2013 incumbent Democrat Sen. Brian Schatz has been a known proponent of the Jones Act, going on record saying he “fully supports the law and doesn’t support “amending it or repealing it” as it supports the Country’s capacity to build Navy ships. “  However—and most unfortunately for Sen. Schatz—this could not be farther from the truth, as the Jones Act was designed and written to protect U.S. merchant and commercial interests only. Sen. Schatz seems to have missed that point.

Hawaii Pacific University economics professor and internationally noted economist Ken Schoolland said, “Statements like Schatz’s are both misinformed and irresponsible given the legislative power he holds as a senator.”

Schoolland went on to say, “The Jones Act, also called the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, was a bill designed and passed to create a vibrant merchant fleet—not a Navy fleet—that could, at the time, keep up with the rapid growth of U.S. shipping and globalization.”

Conversely, it is now 2016, and the framework of the Jones Act as it stands now needs to be tweaked, and quickly. Any contrary gesture is a blatant disregard for the livelihood of Hawaii’s families, including their basic necessities, and the impact on small business owners.

Carroll agrees. He’s been one of few consistent pro-amendment advocates for 40+ years.

John Wesley Nakao stated in an earlier December 23, 2015Honolulu Star-Advertiser editorial that “the Jones Act increases out cost of living by at least one-third above the mainland average.” Which, along with Hawaii’s already exorbitantly high cost of living, healthcare, housing, and energy, continue to burden Hawaii’s people while their elected officials pretend it doesn’t exist.”

But…where has Schatz been in this conversation?

A debate between Carroll and Sen. Schatz would be both education and revealing. While Carroll is willing and eager to debate Sen. Schatz on the Jones Act impact, as well as other pressing local and national fiscal and security issues, Sen. Schatz remains silent.

For more information about John Carroll, his campaign, the Jones Act, call campaign manager Dayna Kalakau at (808) 526-9111.