Testimony in Support of HB2102 (Nutrient Cycling) before House Ag Committee


Hearing Date: February 14, 2018, 9:00AM

Aloha Chairman Creagan, Vice Chair DeCoite and Members of the House Committee on Agriculture. The Hawaii Farmers Union United (“HFUU”) appreciates the opportunity to testify in support of HB2102 to fund a pilot project to recycle local agricultural nutrients.

HFUU’s Nutrient Cycling Pilot Project Plan

Purpose – HFUU is looking for a first-year investment of $200K in combination with other grants, sponsors, and marketing fees to start up a collaborative education, purchasing, and distribution program to help farmers, growers, and gardeners in Hawaii obtain appropriate high quality low cost compost and other soil amendments.

In 2017 with the support of the Department of Agriculture and UH CTAHR we did research on Korean Natural Farming and developed two business plans around nutrient cycling: one for a non-profit educational and technical assistance program, and a second to support the upgrade of an established composting business on Maui. Using a renewable energy technology, the upgrade will allow this business to become profitable and ultimately provide education and low-cost amendments. We anticipate that the investment for the upgrade will come from the private sector. We are asking the state to help fund the non-profit farmer-based education program to start-up. We are designing the program to be self-sustaining after three years.

Organization – HFUU is an “agricultural” 501(c)(5) nonprofit, with nearly 1,400 members in 13 Chapters on the four largest Hawaiian Islands. It is also a chartered State Division of the National Farmers Union, dedicated to promoting education, cooperation, and national, state and local legislation to empower family farmers to make a living off the land. As noted above, this program is an extension of existing educational programs HFUU has been conducting through both its agricultural, membership nonprofit (HFUU) and its charitable, nonprofit foundation,

the Hawaii Farmers Union Foundation (“HFUF”) organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Description – HFUU is already doing short, monthly education programs (10-20 minutes each) mainly focusing on good growing, safety and marketing practices at many of its monthly Chapter membership meetings using member skills and other community resources. In 2017 HFUF administered a series of four two-day workshops on Korean Natural Farming where participants learned how to make and use soil amendments primarily from materials at hand.

The proposed program will continue these collaborative activities, but also take a more proactive role in working with both local soil amendment producers, and importers of amendments to substitute local resources for imported resources on a larger scale. This proactive role will include advocating for improved quality standards and lower prices – including exploring co-operative purchasing of amendments if it makes economic sense. We will also help producers with business consulting.

Marketing Analysis and Plan – Initially marketing efforts will focus on the existing HFU membership, but we will quickly do outreach to non-members who can benefit and believe that this will increase membership as well as help HFUU understand and develop Hawaii s existing and potential grower community as outlined in the financial projections at ATTACHMENT “A”.


Vincent Mina, President