Governor Neil Abercrombie today signed into law several measures relating to agriculture, helping to develop a strong foundation to enhance the State's food and agricultural self-sufficiency. Senator Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, released the following statements regarding the enactment of Senate Bill (SB) 993, SB 586, House Bill (HB) 1263 and HB 353.
SB 993, relating to agricultural loans, expands the Department of Agriculture's agricultural loan program by adding farm innovation loan programs and expanding the definition of a new farmer.
"One of the major concerns regarding sustainability of agriculture in Hawaii is a lack of agricultural entrepreneurs," said Nishihara. "This measure helps provide Hawaii's emerging farmers with the capital they need to start their farming operations and be innovative in testing new crops or techniques."
SB 586, relating to agriculture, provides, under certain circumstances, an exemption from building code and permit requirements for nonresidential buildings or structures, including indigenous Hawaiian hale, on commercial farms and ranches located outside the urban district.
"These agricultural exemptions enacted in this measure support agricultural development and expansion by significantly easing the financial and administrative burdens that we have placed on our farmers and ranchers," said Nishihara.
HB 1263, relating to irrigation, appropriates $75,000 for the East Kauai irrigation system and $45,000 for the Peekauai Ditch irrigation system, also known as the Menehune Ditch.
"Reliable irrigation systems are critical to Hawaii's agricultural industry," said Nishihara. "These irrigation system investments will help ensure that Hawaii's agricultural crops have the opportunity to continue to flourish."
HB 353, relating to agriculture, appropriates $250,000 in the 2013-2015 fiscal biennium for the Department of Agriculture to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of coffee berry borer infestations. The measure also appropriates $300,000 during the 2013-2014 fiscal year for the Department of Agriculture to fund efforts to control and mitigate the damage from coffee berry borer infestation.
"The coffee berry borer is an invasive species that has caused considerable damage to Hawaii's coffee industry," said Nishihara. "The enactment of this measure supports the State's efforts in controlling the damage from the infestation and ensuring the survival of our coffee farms. " Click here to view press release.
Today Governor Neil Abercrombie enacted Senate Bill (SB) 482, relating to agriculture, into law. This measure helps to ensure the continued viability of honeybee stocks by encouraging beekeeping operations of all sizes throughout the State. Following the signing of SB 482 the Governor also proclaimed June 17 through 23 as "Hawaii Pollinator Week."
"Hawaii's beekeeper operations play a critical role in the vitality of our honeybees," said Senator Clarence Nishihara, chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. "The enactment of this measure seeks to promote the honeybee industry by leveling the hurdles currently required for beekeepers to operate in the State."
Honeybees, as a primary pollinator of food crops, have a significant impact on agriculture in Hawaii. Hawaii's annual Farm Gate Sales from bee-pollinated crops is valued at $212,800,000. Unfortunately, vital honeybee populations are declining at a rapid rate due to the arrival of the varroa mites, nosema, and small hive beetles.
Small and large beekeeper operations are responsible for millions of healthy, pollinating bees throughout the State. Small beekeepers, however, have experienced significant barriers to beekeeping due to administrative and bureaucratic requirements.
"It's important that we continue to take the appropriate steps to curb the decline of Hawaii's honeybee population," said Senator Roz Baker, chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce and Consumer Protection. "This law improves Hawaii's current beekeeping requirements, helping to sustain small beekeeping operations and ensuring an adequate supply of honeybees throughout the State."
SB 482 clarifies the maximum number of gallons of honey that can be sold by a certified honey house or food processing establishment without obtaining a permit from the Department of Health (DOH). The measure also exempts from the permit requirement sales of honey directly to retail stores that, in turn, sell the honey directly to consumers. Further, the bill requires honey producers to include certain wording on labels of each container of honey, take a food safety class and make records available to DOH. Click here to view press release.
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