Aloha HFUU Members & Subscribers,
Hawaii Farmers Union United is requesting our membership to send in testimony IN STRONG SUPPORT of SB3197, SB2989, & SB3004.
Please submit testimonies on time, before 1:30pm on Sunday April 3rd.
1) SB3197 STRONG SUPPORT – RELATING TO AGRICULTURE – Establishes a Farmer Apprenticeship Mentoring Program. Makes an appropriation to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture for a Farmer Apprenticeship Mentoring Program. Effective 1/1/2050.
Hearing Date & Time: 4/4 1.30pm
The Hawaii Farmers Union United (HFUU) is a 501(c)(5) agricultural advocacy nonprofit representing a network of over 2,500 family farmers and their supporters across the Hawaiʻian islands. HFUU strongly supports SB3197 to fund a Farmer Apprentice Mentoring Program to teach and train farmers to utilize a whole farm system approach to agriculture.
The Farm Apprentice Mentoring (FAM) program to train beginning farmers was first piloted 2015-2016 in Maui and responds to three major priorities for the State’s food security needs including growing more farmers, increasing the supply of Hawaii’s skilled agricultural workforce and contributing to increased local food production on small family farms through a hands-on farm immersion component.
SB3197 would expand on the FAM program success on Maui and provide beginning farmer training across the islands. As explained in SB3197, the Beginning Farmer Training program immerses beginning farmers in a “whole farm system” approach to agriculture under the guidance of experienced farmer mentors.
As a division of the National Farmers Union (NFU), HFUU supported, at a national level in 2019, a more focused approach to educating interns and apprentices on locally-oriented farms as these educational opportunities results in improved farm viability, a larger pool of skilled agricultural labor, and more beginning farmers. In 2019, NFU established an on-farm labor priority urging Congress to take action to attract U.S. citizens to jobs as agricultural workers and acknowledge the importance of educating interns and apprentices on farms as a pathway to increased availability of skilled agricultural labor SB3197 notes that the future of the State’s farming industry, food supply, and agriculture is reliant upon increasing and diversifying the number of new farmers in the state and introducing regenerative farming methods, statewide.
Increasing the number of farmers who grow food is a key facet of the HFUU statewide strategic plan, and a critical component of meeting State goals for increasing food security and agricultural self-sufficiency. For these reasons we ask you to support SB3197.
Mahalo for the opportunity to testify.
2) SB2989 STRONG SUPPORT– RELATING TO AGRICULTURE – Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish a Healthy Soils Program. Establishes a Healthy Soils Program Special Fund. Appropriates moneys. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD1).
Hearing Date & Time: 4/4 1.30pm
The Hawaii Farmers Union United (HFUU) is a 501(c)(5) agricultural advocacy nonprofit representing a network of over 2,500 family farmers and their supporters across the Hawaiian Islands. HFUU strongly supports SB2989 and the development of a robust soil health program within the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.
The Hawaii Healthy Soils Program (HSP) is intended to house multiple incentives, like those for cover crops (SB2675 and SB2990) and compost (SB3004) and SB2288). This approach is similar to California’s Healthy Soils Program which funds demonstration and implementation grants that support myriad conservation agriculture practices.
The forthcoming GHG sequestration task force report will further delineate best practices that can be incorporated into future incentives. The Hawaii HSP will serve as a mechanism to expand resourcing of these and similar incentives. Conceivably the HSP, similar again to CA’s approach, could be stewarded by an expert support panel, akin to or utilizing the GHG sequestration task force.
As initial incentives, compost application and cover cropping were selected because they are among the top conservation agriculture practices incorporated into NRCS plans for Hawaii farmers and from discussion with conservation planners.
3) SB3004 STRONG SUPPORT– RELATING TO COMPOSTING – Establishes and appropriates funds for a compost reimbursement program within the department of agriculture and one full-time permanent compost reimbursement program manager position to oversee the program. Requires an annual progress report of the program to the legislature prior to each regular session.
Hearing Date & Time: 4/5 2.30pm
The Hawaii Farmers Union United (HFUU) is a 501(c)(5) agricultural advocacy nonprofit representing a network of over 2,500 family farmers and their supporters across the Hawaiian Islands. HFUU strongly supports SB3004 to provide cost-sharing with farms to purchase compost.
During 2019 and 2020, the compost reimbursement pilot program provided over $300,000 in funding to farmers large and small, organic and conventional, as well as landscape and turf operations, as cost-share for purchasing compost. HFUU would like a compost reimbursement program re-established and made permanent.
The success of the pilot program is clearly demonstrated by the wide adoption, which would only grow through the establishment of a permanent program.