REPORT FROM SENATE MAJORITY — Senator Donovan M. Dela Cruz introduced Senate Resolution 133 which urges the State to purchase the 123 parcels of land in Central Oahu that Dole Food Co. has put up for sale. These parcels will add approximately 22,500 acres of land to the 1,700 acres of Galbraith Estate agricultural land in Central Oahu that the State recently acquired. The Agribusiness Development Corporation has received the transfer of 1,200 acres of the Galbraith land.
Senator Dela Cruz is champion of the Whitmore Village Agricultural Development Plan that is intended to return agriculture to the prominence it once had in Central Oahu. He is urging the State to acquire the Dole land to protect this land from urban sprawl and preserve it for agriculture. Further, those lands suitable for conservation or preservation may be transferred to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
“As we increase the State’s inventory of agricultural land, we provide the opportunity for farmers to expand their business or encourage new farmers into the industry. We also enable the increase of diversified agriculture and allow for self-sufficiency,” said Senator Dela Cruz. “We want to demonstrate that farming is an attractive profession, agriculture is revenue generating, and that there is a career in agriculture. We hope to see a new generation of farmers.”
Senator Dela Cruz acknowledged that today’s farmers face many challenges with the biggest drawback being the lack of long-term leases which makes it difficult for them to plan and budget. In addition they are also faced with escalating costs of equipment and supplies, transporting and shipping, and liability and insurance. They have to adhere to food safety certification and have to contend with agricultural theft and vandalism. Adding to their problems is the lack of workforce housing.
The state currently imports 85-90 percent of its food. By helping farmers with long term leases, it will allow them to make investments in their business to increase production and encourage them to try raising new crops to determine their viability. The intent is to create synergy and scale resulting in reduced costs of farming and ensuring supporting systems and activities become efficient.
The re-immergence of agriculture in Central Oahu will also create various levels of jobs in the industry and enhance economic development in a disadvantaged area. The Whitmore Village Plan toward this end is a comprehensive, economically sustainable plan for agriculture that includes farms, packing and processing facilities, distribution systems, infrastructure and water, agri-tourism opportunities, public-private partnerships and long-term investments.
The resolution sets forth the purchase of the Dole lands through floating general obligation bonds and revenue bonds that do not exceed its annual debt service limitations. The bonds are to be paid back from the tenants with current leases and including revenues from the Waiahole Ditch.
For more information, please call 586-6090.
Senate Resolution 133 is attached for more information.