Maui News

MAUI BRIEFING TO DISCUSS POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF AG REDUCTIONS

September 3, 2009, 7:30 AM HST
* Updated September 3, 8:06 AM
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The Hawaii State Senate’s Ad Hoc Committee will conduct an informational briefing on Maui this week to gather information relating to the potential impacts of reductions within the state Department of Agriculture on Maui.

Keanae taro lo'i. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Keanae taro lo'i. Photo by Wendy Osher.

In a press release issued today, the committee states that the discussion arises from Governor Linda Lingle’s announced intention to layoff branch staff from the department’s plant quarantine branch.

The briefing will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday, September 3, 2009, at the Maui Waena Intermediate School in Kahului.  It is being coordinated by Maui Senators J. Kalani English, Shan Tsutsui and Roz Baker.

The Maui briefing follows similar briefings in Kona, Hilo and Honolulu that considered similar issues of Agricultural closures as well as the possible closure of the Kulani Correctional Center on the Big Island of Hawaii.

“Hearing directly from those who could be affected by these closures is very different from thinking about them in the abstract,” said Senator Tsutsui.  “We know from experience that there will be very real human impacts and that needs to be part of our consideration.”

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“Maui, Molokai and Lanai still have significant agricultural economies,” said Senator Baker, who chairs the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs.  “Closing the plant quarantine branch could severely damage our ag sector which means not only business closures and people out of jobs, but also the possibility of fewer home-grown products for local markets.  The impacts reach far beyond one segment of the industry and threaten our environment and lifestyle.  That is not a path toward a more sustainable Hawaii, which is a goal I think we have all accepted as our state’s most desirable future,” said Baker.

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For Senator English, the closures could mean more bad news for Molokai, which has already felt the effects of business shut-downs.  “We know that Molokai needs to rebuild its economy.  It is still recovering from Molokai Ranch’s decision to shutter its operations.  Endangering our agricultural infrastructure will only make that recover harder.  I think we want to know what the possibilities are, and how these decisions were made.  We owe that to the community.”

(Posted by Wendy Osher, Information provided by the Hawaii State Senate Ad Hoc Committee)

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