Ing & Thielen Propose Hemp as HC&S Transition Crop
Rep. Kaniela Ing (Kīhei, Wailea, Mākena) today announced via change.org that he and “hemp warrior” Rep. Cynthia Thielen (R-Kailua) are putting forth a bipartisan proposal to “transition HC&S’s cornerstone crop from sugar to industrial hemp.”
“Coupled with direct severance and training assistance, this could save hundreds of plantation jobs on Maui,” states a letter on the Keep Maui Green, Save 650 Jobs petition page, a copy of which was sent to Hawai‘i legislators (see recipient list below).
Maui resident Tiare Lawrence started this petition with a single signature; it now has approximately 3,000 supporters. The site states that 2,000 more votes are needed by Wednesday, Jan. 20.
Alexander & Baldwin announced the closure of sugar operations on Maui on Jan. 7.
“More than 650 Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. employees will lose their jobs, and residents will be left with uncertainty about the future of the plantation’s 36,000 acres,” the petition page letter continues. “A&B has announced plans to transition to a diversified agribusiness model. Now more than ever, we urge the decision makers of Hawai‘i to approve Industrial Hemp production in Hawai‘i.
“Test crops at UH have proven successful and promising” the petition page letter states. “Initial findings from the project indicate that the tropical fiber hemp is flourishing and has grown over 10 feet tall during its crop cycle of 15 weeks. The tropical seed hemp is much shorter, but is heavily producing seed.
“Hemp is a crop that will keep our agricultural land in active production, yields high profit margins, provide hundreds of job opportunities and provide a product for entrepreneurs.
“In US alone, the market for hemp seed oil and fiber is approximately $600 million a year. With your support, Maui can create a food and energy self-sufficiency model for Hawai‘i, preserve productive agricultural lands, and establish new economic engines for Maui and the State of Hawai‘i.
“We urge you to approve industrial hemp production this legislative session. With over 650 jobs at risk, time is of the essence.”