homepage logo

LETTERS for January 1 issue

By Staff | Jan 1, 2015

Agriculture can impact many lives

Why we are… where we are… for such a time as this? Have you pondered that by advocating for agriculture in Hawaii, you can make a difference in changing people’s lives?

Consider the benefits that can happen to the Hawaiian Islands with global impacts if we were to become an agrarian society. Farming community impacts are invaluable.

Prison reforms could incorporate agriculture production by the inmates to equip them for a new life when they are released. Working on the land is healing and restorative and beneficial for rehabilitation. The agriculture production would also help to defray the cost of the inmate population expenses and provide healthy food that they can take pride in growing. Who knows what culinary delights will be created with the time they have to experiment.

I don’t know why they call it “welfare,” because it’s robbing people of the joy of working and being productive. We are designed to be creative; to enjoy our work is a gift from God. The potential and variety of jobs related to agriculture are bountiful. There are multiple opportunities related to the industry, and we are only limited by our imaginations.

Our educational system revolves around STEM, which stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “A” is for agriculture. If you propagated A STEM, you could realize real growth. All of the standards mentioned are essential to farming and ranching and the industry it would create.

Lahainaluna High School started the boarding program with agriculture as its primary reason for its existence. The state has ag land by the school, so to work together, they could reinstate a valuable educational facility to encourage future farmers.

Our universities and colleges have potential for growth, as many acres of state land are zoned agriculture. If proper protocol is established, the food from these projects could be used in the culinary programs, science, math and other subjects that relate to the agriculture industry.

I grew up in a farming community, and my dad was the principal at the small private school. The community would provide potatoes, milk and beef to supplement his salary, which was not mandated… just kindness. We hunted and fished and had a garden; we canned our vegetables for the long winters. The farmers would allow gleaning for those that had need. We could do that here, too. Fruits and vegetables that do not make it to the markets could be made available at a fraction of the cost or free for those that are in need. We can provide healthier and more nutritious food for all the people of Hawaii.

The major dietary health issues related to Hawaii are diabetes and heart disease. Increasing the availability of good tasting, nutritious food and having healthy snack options will be a benefit to our well-being. I know kids like fruits and veggies – it’s all in the preparation. My nephews from California would go wild when the corn on the cob truck was in the neighborhood. Imagine our snack trucks peddling corn on the cob, frozen fruit bars, and li hing mui fruit treats. By changing these snack options for the youth and providing all households with fresh fruit and vegetables, you can change the next generation’s eating behavior and lower the risks of diabetes and heart disease.

Can you see how agriculture would make a positive impact on so many lives? Let’s plant seeds of hope. In no time, we will have changed the world (or at least our world). It’s up to others to follow, but we will lead by example and always with ALOHA.



Police should monitor park

I wish the police would make a strong presence at Honoapiilani Park by Honua Kai, as there are many of us of all ages who frequent the area.

Seniors (as I am), grandchildren and children recently saw a dog being hit, kicked and yelled at for no real reason. Yelling never is the answer to anything, as all beings react the opposite to what is trying to be accomplished.

Dogs are dogs; they love contact with other dogs (I am sure this dog would have loved to play with my dog).

We have witnessed drug sales going on at this park and further up around by the restrooms. The police cruise but never stop to sit and watch illegal things occur.

I am sure his dog would be very happy to be away from this rude and mean person.



Protect marriage equality in Hawaii

Despite the fact that marriage equality has been legal in Hawaii for more than a year now, we still must remain vigilant in protecting it. State Rep. Bob McDermott recently went before the state Supreme Court to argue that our marriage law is unconstitutional, a violation of the marriage amendment passed by voters in 1998.

It’s not a new argument. This is an appeal of the same case McDermott lost in Circuit Court last year, when the judge threw out the case, bluntly telling him, “Same-sex marriage in Hawaii is legal.”

And, of course, that came on the heels of McDermott losing a separate lawsuit to prevent the marriage special session from even taking place.

Our gains are always hard-fought and must always be closely guarded. When we surveyed Hawaii’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community in June and asked respondents to select the top issue priorities facing our community from a list of 15 choices, “protecting our gains against potential repeal” drew the third-highest support.

We take that mission seriously at Equality Hawaii, which is why we’ve been conferring in recent days with partners at Freedom to Marry and elsewhere to ensure we’re prepared for any potential outcome from McDermott’s latest gambit.

Please help Equality Hawaii stay prepared. Your support ensures that our community has the resources and organizational preparation to meet any challenge that comes our way, whether it be from the ever-litigious Rep. McDermott, anti-gay conservative organizations or elsewhere.

If you can’t make a gift, please consider stepping up to help with our 2015 legislative agenda, which includes laws to prevent bullying in our schools and to help trans people get proper birth certificates. Send an e-mail to info@equalityhawaii.org with your interest, and we’ll be in touch right away.

Mahalo for your support, and happy holidays!

TODD SIMMONS, Executive Director, Equality Hawaii


Congress takes family farmers for a ride

What does Congress have against family farmers and ranchers? The $1.1 trillion spending bill passed last week included the full version of the so-called GIPSA rider passed earlier by the House of Representatives. A rider is a legislative provision attached to a larger spending bill.

There are not enough ways to describe how bad this hidden policy package truly is. It limits USDA’s ability to protect farmers’ and ranchers’ basic rights, such as their freedom of speech and freedom of association. The Packers and Stockyards Act, passed in 1921, was written to protect farmers and ranchers from discriminatory, deceptive and abusive practices when they sell livestock and poultry to meatpacking corporations.

Congress abandoned those principles when they passed the FY 2015 federal spending bill. They abandoned USDA’s effort to provide smaller volume livestock producers a more competitive livestock market and greater fairness for farmers and ranchers.

The 2008 Farm Bill required Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to write regulation, under the Packers and Stockyards Act, to prohibit undue and discriminatory preferences given to large, industrial livestock operations and to provide basic protections to farmers and ranchers who do business with meatpacking corporations. Secretary Vilsack proposed the best and most comprehensive livestock market reforms since the passage of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Unfortunately, Congress has repeatedly undercut his efforts. Family farmers and ranchers need and deserve access to competitive livestock markets that reward them fairly for their work. That’s something Congress must figure out, soon.

JOHN CRABTREE, Center for Rural Affairs