(BIVN) – The Hawaiʻi State Senate is looking to counter the “demise of Hawaii’s dairies”.
Senate Resolution 88, requesting that the Department of Agriculture “designate areas in each county for dairy operations and develop incentives to attract dairy operators to the state”, was recently supported by a joint committee.
On March 20, the Senate Committee on Agriculture & Environment, and Public Safety, Intergovernmental, and Military Affairs, held a hearing on SR 88, which states:
WHEREAS, peak milk production in the State was at one hundred sixty million pounds in 1988, but by 2006, production declined by more than sixty-four percent to fifty-seven million pounds; and
WHEREAS, milk production in the State in 2017 was 1.75 million gallons, which equates to just over fifteen million pounds; and
WHEREAS, the demise of Hawaii’s dairies stemmed from the higher cost of local milk production and loss of market presence due to competitive, low-cost imported milk from the mainland United States; and
WHEREAS, local dairy operators face several challenges to the local production of milk, including high costs and environmental challenges; and
WHEREAS, the State only has two dairies currently operating and one of those dairies intends to shut down its operations in spring 2019; and
WHEREAS, the State lacks a local animal feed producer, which necessitates the importation of feed by local dairy operators and ranchers; and
WHEREAS, bad weather and mechanical issues on cargo ships caused milk delivery delays and left some store shelves empty the first week in March of 2019; and
WHEREAS, dairy shortages highlight the need for the State to increase its local food production; and
WHEREAS, local dairies can help reduce the State’s reliance on imported milk; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirtieth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2019, that the Department of Agriculture is requested to designate areas in each county for dairy operations and develop incentives to attract dairy operators to the State; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Department of Agriculture is requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including a map and explanation of areas in each county to be designated for dairy operations and proposed incentives to attract dairy operators to the State, and any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2020;
The resolution received a lot of opposition. “This reso is a ploy to prop up an industry that has failed because of the environmental damage that dairies do, a function of maintaining a herd on fragile land, along with the huge quantities of manure produced by dairy cows,” testified Cathy Goeggel for Animal Rights Hawaiʻi.
The Hawai‘i Center for Food Safety supported the measure, as long as there were some amendments. The organization wrote:
The Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety would like to mahalo Senators Dela Cruz and the co-sponsors of this resolution for recognizing that an increase in local milk production is an important part of restoring Hawaiʻiʻs food security.
The recent lawsuit and settlement with Big Island Dairy regarding their violations of the Clean Water Act, and the confirmed release of millions of gallons of animal waste into nearby waterways over numerous incidents illustrates the need for us to encourage the shift away from concentrated dairy operations and toward a more sustainable model of diversified agriculture which includes milk production.
The Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety is concerned that by designating areas for dairy operations, the DOA will be encouraging the existence of multiple concentrated dairy operations in a single large area.
Concentrated dairy operations are known to have disastrous impacts on environment, including nearby waterways, and have a higher incidence of disease among dairy cows.
HCFS is requesting that SCR118 be amended to include language that clarifies that designated areas for dairy operation do not allow for operations of medium/large Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO), as defined by the EPA.
We are also requesting that the SCR118 request the Department of Agriculture to include in their report of findings and recommendations, the following:
1. Recommended incentives for locally owned dairy operations, and/or operations that are less than the threshold for EPA medium or large CAFO designation, and/or dairy operations that operate as part of a diversified agricultural model that uses dairy waste as a resource, keeping it out of our waterways.
2. Examination of the effects of the Milk Act on the decline of Hawaiʻiʻs dairy industry, and recommended revisions or updates with flexibility to address potential issues in the future.
The joint senate committee recommended that the measure be passed, with amendments. The committee adopted into the language of the resolution the suggestion by the Hawaiʻi Center for Food Safety that the effects of the Milk Act on Hawaiʻi’ dairy industry by examined.