Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I was hoping that today would be our last and final push until we got HB2703 onto the Governor’s desk. After making it through every twist and turn, mounting ever hurdle, I was ready to tell you the “power of the people” matters. But instead, I am writing to you with very sad and frankly very scary news.

I received word late today that the language that will appear in the conference committee meeting for HB2703 tomorrow will be PROFOUNDLY different from the language we all testified in support of. (I’ve included the full language of both bills below for your reference). In a total subversion of the democratic process, Clift Tsuiji, house agricultural chair and representative for South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown, has chosen to couch the goal of food self-sufficiency into an industrial vision of Hawaii’s food system.

This cannot be. This cannot happen. He must be stopped. We have less than 24 hours to do it.
Thousands of people testified and made phone calls in support of this bill. We wrote countless emails. We walked the halls of the legislature. We knocked on doors, took meetings, wrote more emails, took more meetings, attended hearings. Countless countless hours of work…all unpaid. And yet it is the voice of  Hawaii’s monied forces, with their high paid lobbyists, who are now being heard in the final version of the bill.

What does Tsuji want to do?  

To start with, he wants it explicitly stated in the bill that the food self-sufficiency goal shall be non-binding – of course!  And if the Department of Ag doesn’t like the goal they should be allowed to cut it nearly in half – of course!

Then, as if these aren’t bad enough he wants our food and farming bill to be tied to “other goals of equal priority”

Like what?  Well like:

§  Building as many new homes as the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corporation deems necessary by 2020. (What’s a housing issue doing in an ag bill?)

§  Meeting our renewable energy portfolio standard in 2020 “partly with biofuels and biomass crops at the volume estimated by the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.”

§  Requiring that “the community growth boundary of a county’s long-term general, development, or community plan shall be respected,” which appears to be an effort to kill the Honolulu City Council’s recent decision to consider designating as Important Agricultural Lands the farmlands of billionaire developer Donald Horton and billionaire developer David Murdock at Ho‘opili and Koa Ridge (which between them grow 40% of the food currently grown in the state).

What else? Let’s Protect GMOs!

Yep: he wants to legislate that there shall be ”no state or county prohibition on the growing, raising, possession, or consumption by people of genetically engineered agricultural products within the state if the products are grown or raised in compliance with federal law.”

That’s because this brave representative of the people probably receives more money from GMO corporations than any other member of the Hawaii state legislature, indeed he may be one of the top recipients of GMO funding in the nation.

Let’s Steal Your Water

Oh and then he inserts language that contradicts and nullifies public trust protections of water resources, by making commercial agricultural diversions a “public trust purpose” – something that big monied interests have tried and failed to promulgate for years.

No One’s Responsible

Here’s another beauty: “No person may bring an action against the state or any state officer or employee for an act or omission alleged to be contrary to attainment of the food sustainability benchmark.”

He wants to stink-up this bill so badly that we’ll be forced to lobby against our own measure.

OK so you get the idea.

The Legislature has received literally thousands of pieces of written testimony and phone calls from supporters of this bill.  Dozens of people have come to the Capitol to testify in person.  Just today a group of farmers published an editorial in the Star-Advertiser calling for passage of this bill.

It’s Undemocratic

In other words, what Tsuji did was not just a dirty political trick that flouts the wishes of the hundreds of people who have lobbied for this bill, it’s probably unconstitutional.

Call Tsuji NOW! 

I urge you to call and email Clifton Tsuji’s office and tell him what you think of his shenanigans.

Ask him to drop his giveaway to the rich and powerful landowners, developers, and GMO corporations.

Urge him to pass the Senate version of the bill known as SD2

Mr Tsuji’s phone number is: 

And his email address is: 

Let’s flood his phone lines and his mailbox. We cannot stand by and have our hardwork used to support the very forces this bill was originally intended to work against.

For your reference:

Version #1 of the bill ( the version we would like to see re-instated) states the following:

Department of agriculture responsibilities.  (a)  The department shall be responsible for measuring and analyzing the amount of food livestock, dairy, and edible crop commodities grown and sold in the State on an annual basis.  This information shall be made publicly available in accordance with chapter 92F.
(b)  The department shall, on an annual basis and in conjunction with the department of business, economic development, and tourism, identify key food commodities to be targeted for assistance in developing an increased local market share.
(c)  The department shall be responsible for planning and adopting the necessary incentives to ensure that the food sustainability standard established under this chapter is met or exceeded.
(d)  The department shall submit an annual report to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of each regular session on the status and progress of the department’s efforts to effectuate this chapter and any recommended policy changes or necessary legislation.
(e)  The department may adopt rules pursuant to chapter 91 to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.
§   -3  Food sustainability standard.  (a)  A statewide food sustainability standard to be achieved by the year 2020 is hereby established that requires the State to increase the amount of food grown in the State for local consumption by at least double the amount grown in 2014; provided that the department shall measure this amount by the farm cash receipts for livestock, dairy, and crops without regard to inflation adjustments, or by a comparable measurement as determined by the department.
(b)  The department shall submit a report and recommendations to the legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the 2020 regular session on how to raise the food sustainability standard over the following decade.”
SECTION 3.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2030.

The version that will be presented tomorrow says this:

SECTION 2: Food sustainability benchmark for 2020. There is established a non-binding food sustainability benchmark of thirty percent by 2020. the “food sustainability benchmark of thirty percent” means that thirty percent of the food consumed by people within the state is grown or raised within the state. Direct sales receipts of farmers shall be the measurement unit for the benchmark.

SECTION 3 other goals of equal priority. The following goals shall be equal in priority to attaining the food sustainability benchmark:

(1) the goal of meeting the renewable energy protfolio standard in 2020, partly with biofuels and biomass crops at the volume estimated by the department of business, economic development, and tourism;
(2) the goal of increasing agricultural products for export and livestock feed at a rate determined by the department of agriculture to be realistic and based on available studies.
(3) The goal of constructing the total new housing unity needed in each county shall be the sum of the following:
(a) the total new houses units needed in each county from 2012 to 2016 as projected in the Hawaii Housing and Planning study, 2011, by the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation; and
(b) the total new housing units need in each county from 2017 to 2020, as estimated by the Hawaii housing finance and development corporation and using data in the Hawaii Housing and Planning study

For the purpose of this goal, the community growth boundary of a county’s long-term general, development, or community plan shall be respected.

SECTION 4 Food Sustainability benchmark study.
(a) subject to the availability of sufficient funds, the department of agriculture shall conduct a study of the practical requirements to attain in the state food sustainability benchmark established under section 2.
(b) the department of agriculture shall include findings and recommendations on the following in the study:

(1) the land, water, workforce, education, promotion and marketing, public infrastructure investment, private investment, and other pertinent requirements to attain the food sustainability;
(2) the net economic and employment effect of attaining the food sustainability benchmark; and
(3) the feasibility of attaining the food sustainability benchmark of thirty per cent in 2020 and whether a lower benchmark, such as sixteen per cent, is more practical.

SECTION 5. Guidelines for study. The department of agriculture shall use the following guidelines in the conduct of the study:
(1) The use of water for agriculture is a public trust purpose equal to all others under state water code;
(2) Agricultural products grown or raised within the state and sold by retail stores, restaurants, and hotels to people for consumption are grown or raised in conformance with good agricultural management practices and food safety certification standards; provided that this guideline shall not apply agricultural products sold directly to consumers the farmer who grew or raised the agricultural products; and
(3) there is no state or county prohibition on the growing, raising, possession, or consumption by people of genetically engineered agricultural products within the state if the products are grown or raised in compliance with federal law.

SECTION 6. Advice. During the conduct of the study, the deparment of agriculture shall solict the advice of the Hawaii Green Growth Initiative, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, University of Hawaii college of tropical agriculture and human resources, and other organizations as the department deems appropriate.

SECTION 7. Deadline for study. the department of agriculture shall submit the study to the govenor and legilsature no later than twnty days prior to the convening of the regular session of 2013.

SECTION 8. Appropriation
(a) There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of  ______________ or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2012 – 2013 for the conduct of the food sustainability benchmark study required by this Act.

SECTION 9. No Liability for the state of state officer or employee. There shall be no civil or criminal liability for or cause of action against the state or any state officer or employee for failure to attain the food sustainability benchmark. No person may bring an action against the state or any state officer or employee for an act or omission alleged to be contrary to attainment of the food sustainability bechmark.

SECTION 10. This act shall take effect on July 1, 2012.