UH Maui Cooperative Extension Service has four key agriculture staffers. The four are experts in livestock, vegetable production, landscaping and organic farming.
Could a department level interface with UH Maui expand the value from these important farm experts? I say yes and as of now, no department is tasked with agriculture. Although we have an ag specialist in the Office of Economic Development, the agriculture sector has not grown in decades, even with all the resources at that office’s disposal.
The county bought extra land to expand its ag park two years ago and it’s still sitting fallow! A department of ag could help put this land into farmers’ hands.
A deptartment of ag working can write grants to help growers, in partnership with UH Maui and Maui County. Farmers need this kind of support.
Maui County Farm Bureau opposes this charter amendment. Ironically, they are concerned about cost and redundancy, but the farm bureau has received hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from Maui County while Maui’s ag sector continues to decline. I reject farm bureau opposition to creating a department of agriculture for Maui County.
On the other hand, Hawaii Farmers Union United, Haleakala Chapter, supports the creation of a Maui County department of agriculture, as do many other farmers and farming groups.
We need to grow our own food. Please vote in favor of the charter amendment to create a Maui County department of agriculture.
Greenleaf Farm, Makawao