News Release from Senator Laura Thielen, January 27, 2014
Three bills – all imperfect – try to address the biggest land use issue facing agriculture in Hawaii. (I said land use issue – so they don’t address other important issues relating to agriculture.)
We are losing large parcels of prime agricultural land to urban sprawl.
This isn’t news. But it’s worse than you think. A lot of Ag land is broken up through non-public processes. So if you haven’t checked agency records, you wouldn’t know which Ag lands are fully entitled for development.
Three bills try to address some of these issues*:
- SB 2388 prohibits any CPR on Ag lands greater than 25 acres. (Companion bills make Ag CPR s and subdivisions public, discretionary decisions, but these are less likely to move).
- SB 3065 directs the State to purchase about 16,000 acres of prime agricultural lands that are up for sale.
- SB 2394 requires DOA and ADC to rent to small, mid-size and large farms, and have protocols that support specialty crops, including organic farms, to build a diverse agricultural economy.
The first bill will slow down the rate private owners are breaking up large tracts of Ag lands.
The second bill says the best way to preserve lands for agriculture in perpetuity is for the State to own it.
The third bill requires the State to support and encourage real diversity in agriculture – and not just favor the big interests.
All three bills can be improved. And the best chance to improve them is if people get involved in the legislative process.
I’ll post a fun way for you to weigh in soon.
*Disclaimer: I signed all three, and took lead on two. But the ideas were generated through multiple people, so I can’t claim credit. Interestingly, Senator Dela Cruz took lead on the third. But more on that later.