Creating agriculture markets, curbing invasive species and gathering native farm information are a few of the duties county officers hope to see the brand new Division of Agriculture tackle.
After Maui County turned the primary county in Hawaii to determine its personal Division of Agriculture earlier this 12 months, a Maui County Council committee on Tuesday unanimously voted to suggest a invoice outlining the division’s duties.
Agriculture and Public Belief Committee Vice Chairperson Gabe Johnson, who launched the invoice and engaged with the group, thanked the Ag Working Group of group members, nonprofits and farming organizations for his or her yearlong efforts and enter to assist formulate the division’s obligations.
“Making a Division of Agriculture on the county degree is big, and as soon as once more, Maui County is main the forefront on meals safety and farming and diversifying our economic system,” Johnson stated.
He added that the doc was constructed from “the underside up” primarily based on the wants and the enter of “the farmers, ranchers, the parents who’ve their arms within the soil.”
In response to the proposed invoice, the division would assist to develop agriculture infrastructure; create agriculture markets and distribution networks; assist agriculture analysis and improvement; present schooling, outreach and advocacy; present coverage and regulation help; promote workforce improvement; decrease invasive species, pests and threats; promote useful resource regeneration and safety; and handle transportation points.
The division can even be accountable for minimizing agricultural theft, vandalism and legal responsibility by working with police, prosecuting attorneys, county and state to handle the losses from agricultural-related theft and vandalism.
The division will help with contracts and procurement by offering help to advertise native meals manufacturing and import substitution with a give attention to native meals safety, in addition to promote company coordination by collaborating with the agricultural sector, creating shared targets and visions for the county and creating strategic plans to realize these targets.
Annual reporting necessities can even be among the many division’s duties, together with collaborating with current efforts and companies to gather information on labor demographics, variety of farms, measurement of farms, crops grown, worth per acre, water use, schooling and outreach, variety of grants disbursed, quantity and sort of livestock and extra.
Just lately appointed Agriculture Director Rogerene “Kali” Arce and Deputy Director Weston Yap will likely be accountable for implementing and administering these insurance policies.
“We simply needed to acknowledge and mahalo the Neighborhood Influence Working Group for his or her effort and time devoted to drafting this invoice, which basically offers the Division of Ag with the street map of outlined guidelines and obligations,” Arce stated through the committee assembly on Tuesday afternoon. “We positively will think about it when creating our strategic plan.”
Earlier than the committee advisable passage of the invoice with amendments, testifiers expressed their assist and encouragement of the invoice due to its means to assist the farming and ranching communities.
“This laws will assist the Division of Agriculture create extra sustainable and self-sufficient meals techniques that profit our residents, our economic system and our delicate ecosystems,” stated Lauren Nelson, who’s with the Maui Meals Alliance however spoke as a personal particular person.
Warren Watanabe of the Maui County Farm Bureau stated that the bureau helps the intent of the invoice contemplating the various pressing points at the moment dealing with farmers and ranchers, similar to drought, axis deer and entry to funding and grant writing assist.
“I feel it is a very useful invoice to offer steerage to the division because it will get up and working,” stated Hana resident and dealing group member Scott Crawford, who additionally works with the Hana chapter of the Hawaii Farmers Union United. “There must be provisions made about prioritizing as a result of we will’t do every little thing all of sudden essentially. … General, I feel it’s very well-thought steerage coming from a really various group of data.”
Council Members Kelly King, Alice Lee, Mike Molina, Tamara Paltin and Keani Rawlins-Fernandez supported the advice to move the invoice.
Creating this invoice that may function a framework for the brand new division was “no small feat,” stated King.
“This ordinance got here out of intensive group dialogue facilitated by the Neighborhood Influence Working Group,” Committee Chairperson Shane Sinenci stated.
The committee later voted to suggest passage of one other invoice to administratively connect the Kula Agricultural Park Committee to the Division of Agriculture.
* Dakota Grossman may be reached at email@example.com.