HFUU Legislative Hemp Support: In STRONG SUPPORT of SB2986 and SB2218

SB2986, SD 1 RELATING TO HEMP – Eliminates or relaxes certain regulations of commercial hemp production and prohibits the State from requiring inspections or sampling of, or issuing violations or penalties to, hemp producers licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture that are following the United States Department of Agriculture’s rules and protocols. Amends the conditions under which licensed hemp producers may transport hemp within the State to be processed or to other grow areas. Allows licensed hemp producers to sell hemp biomass directly to consumers via online platforms. Requires the identity statement used for labeling or advertising any hemp product to identify the percentage of Hawaii grown or processed hemp products in all hemp products and, if those products are not from Hawaii, the origin of any hemp product. Exempts certain processors of hemp from the requirement that they register with the department of health as hemp processors. Extends the sunset date of Act 14, Session Laws of Hawaii 2020, which establishes the state hemp processors and commercial hemp production laws. (HD1)

SUPPORTIVE TESTIMONY:Please support SB 2986, which modifies burdensome and costly regulations for Hawaii farmers that have kept farmers locked out of lucrative hemp and CBD markets.  Please let the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce know that you support 1.) small batch on-farm processing exemptions; 2.) the elimination of State inspections because USDA already has this authority, trained personnel, and a database and duplicating inspections costs the State and farmer money; and 3.) the requirement for farmers to include a copy of their USDA hemp license and lab report instead of State movement reports which were based on the USDA license and lab reports.  Law enforcement can confirm the shipment is hemp with USDA if need be.   Because of HFUU member support important changes have been made to SB 2986.  Your continued support is needed to ensure these changes remain in SB 2986.  Please take a moment to support 2986.

SB 2218, SD1 – RELATING TO A FOOD HUB PILOT PROGRAM – Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish a five-year food hub pilot program to increase access to local food. Provides for the award of grant funding to qualified applicants wishing to establish or expand a food hub. Authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for the Honalo Marshalling Yard. Requires reports to the Legislature. Appropriates funds. Effective 7/1/2050. (SD1)

SUPPORTIVE TESTIMONY: 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. This bill will provide support for the network of food hubs across the state to expand their work, and in doing so increase farmer incomes and consumer food access. For these reasons we strongly support SB2218.

In 2017, the Legislature awarded the Hawaii Farmers Union Foundation a Grant in Aid project to Strengthen Regional Food Hubs in Hawai’i. As part of that project, the coordinator, Dr. Saleh Azizi facilitated a focus group, composed of the majority of Hawaiʻi’s food hubs, to understand the resources needed for food hubs to respond to statewide local food purchasing goals. The focus group findings resulted in a 2020 Food Hub Pilot program bill to support existing and new food hubs in all of Hawaii’s counties.

Food hubs play a critical role in our food system by connecting small farmers with diverse markets. In decades past, farmer cooperatives were a strong tool for smallholders to get to market. Food hubs are a modern approach to revitalize farmer cooperation and expand market access. Support of this bill will expand the critical work of food hubs and build a stronger local food economy. Mahalo for the opportunity to testify.