HONOLULU, Hawaii – The reappointment of Hamakua farmer Richard Ha to the Hawaii Board of Agriculture was confirmed by the State Senate on Friday.
The unanimous vote was not without some initial controversy. Puna State Senator Russell Ruderman, adverse to Ha’s support of GMO farming, devised an email and social media campaign against Ha’s return to the ag board when it first came up for a vote.
Ha received a flood of support from across the state.
Eventually Ruderman changed his tune. There was even a meeting between the two at the Capitol in which the two bonded over Ha’s support of organic farming and even Ha’s tomatoes, which Ruderman purchases for sale at his Hawaii Island market chain, Island Naturals.
On the floor of the Senate during the final vote, Ruderman rose to clarify his position and his apology to Ha.
After talking with Mr. Ha I discovered I was incorrect about what I had perceived as antipathy toward organic, and Mr. Ha generously assured me he will advocate for organic farming in addition to the other kinds. That’s all I can hope for here.Sen. Russell Ruderman – April 4, 2014
(:10) – Ruderman rises to clarify concerns: never about the person, rather about the direction of the state’s ag efforts
(:20) – Ruderman says he wants balance between the heavily supported, large chemical companies and unsupported organic farming.
(:50) – Ruderman says organic is fastest growing segment of food industry, politically and economically.
(1:35) – Ruderman says he was concerned whether a strong GMO proponent (Ha) was what is needed to achieve that balance.
(1:48) – Ruderman says he was assured by Ha that Ha will advocate for organic farming.
(2:15) – Ruderman wonders why only GMO proponents are nominated and why divergence of opinions on the subject so feared.
(2:33) – Ruderman says he takes comfort in Ha as a respected, local food farmer and community leader.
(2:50) – Ruderman calls Ha his new ally
(3:00) – Ruderman says he enjoys buying Ha’s produce every week at his store