Speaker: Ha of Hamakua Springs

 

Richard Ha on food security

Farmers are pro science, Richard Ha told Club members at Wednesday's meeting. 'Whichever way science says, farmers will go."  He and other crop producers, who represent 90 percent of the farm value on Hawaii Island, have filed suit against the County.  "It's not about GMO; it's about food security," he said.  In June, farmers, cattlemen and flower growers filed a suit to oppose the County's ban on genetically modified crops. 
 
Ha said such a suit was a difficult decision.  These groups took a big risk against concerns that people might boycott them, or take other actions.
 
"The group is saying, 'don't take away our options;'  I don't use GMOs, but don't take away my options." 
 
He was heartened by the recent federal court decision that Kauai's new law is preempted by state and federal measures.
 
Only 10 percent of what we eat here is produced here, he said.  Organics have a particularly hard time against Mainland organics.  Because cold winters and chilly springs allow harvest before the critters come, the industrial agriculture organics from the Mainland will win out.
 
He added that cost of energy drives up Hawaii food cultivation as well.  Ha said we must leave options open for farmers to farm.
 
Ha is a former US Army Captain who served in Viet Nam. Hamakua Springs Country Farms is a 600 acre fee simple diversified ag farm with 70 workers. He sits on Board of Agriculture and on boards of HIEDB and Kohala Center. He is founding member Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United, whose members produce more than 90% of the farm value on the Big Island.