Question: Please close by telling us a bit more about yourself and your commitment to agriculture. Mahalo!
Joe Akana: US House Hawaii District 2
I’ve been meeting with community leaders in the agriculture and farming industry. What I am hearing is a need to improve the sustainability of family farmers and to improve food security for Hawaii’s communities. My goal in working with community leaders and the boots-on-the-ground farmers is to formulate and promote policies which help farmers, statewide, become more competitive in the marketplace. In order for Hawaii agriculture to thrive, we need to make sure the playing field is clear of obstacles. Another passion is to foster and encourage new technologies to aid and grow Hawaii’s agriculture industry; like hyro-nets, industrial hemp and other effective models in research and development. I am also focussed on working with small farmers to aid in accessing and pooling resources and working together as an industry. The more self-sustaining Hawaii’s farms are the stronger our food security becomes. My prime personal goal is to keep a pulse on what’s really going on and be ready to act. We want Hawaii’s people to not only survive, but prosper and thrive.
Patrick P. Branco: US House Hawaii District 2
My name is Patrick Pihana Branco, and I am the State Representative for House District 50 (Kailua and Kāne‘ohe Bay). I was born and raised in Kailua, and spent my summers working on my great-grandfather’s farm on Hawaiʻi Island. I graduated from the Kamehameha Schools, Hawai’i Pacific University, and Johns Hopkins University. Drawn to public service, I joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a Diplomat in 2012. I served tours in Colombia, Pakistan, Venezuela, the Office of the Special Representative for Afghanistan, and in the Secretary of State’s Operations Center. During my first tour in Colombia, I worked with USAID and the Department of Commerce to fund research with the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia while they were researching coffee resistant varieties to coffee rust. I believe agriculture is a key tenant for the diversification of Hawai‘i’s economy. Agriculture is already Hawaiʻi’s third-largest industry, and Hawaiʻi’s 2nd District is responsible for 94% of Hawaiʻi’s agricultural sales. In Congress, I will work to bring federal funding and grants from USDA to ensure that Hawaiʻi’s agricultural sector is protected from invasive species and diseases. I will also ensure that funding for Hawaiʻi’s specialty crops, livestock, and fishing industries are boosted in the next Farm Bill. I also know that we cannot properly invest in our agricultural sector unless we can make the needed investments in the infrastructure on the Neighbor Islands, and increase the supply of affordable housing. I will work with community members and stakeholders throughout the Neighbor Islands to identify how the federal government can best serve our communities, and secure the investments needed from the US Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development to address disparities in rural infrastructure and housing.
Brendan Schultz: US House Hawaii District 2
What separates our campaign from every other campaign in this race is that we are not taking any special interest and corporate money – or what we like to call legal political bribes. The people of Hawai’i and the United States deserve universal healthcare, good union jobs, secure retirement, a green future, and an end to militarism. The political establishment and corporate Democrats in Hawai’i have failed the people of our islands on all these counts, leading our state to have polluted water, unaffordable housing, a public health crisis, an epidemic of violence, and a defunct public education system. These crises are the expected result when we continue to elect people who take legal political bribes and have continuously proven that they will put their political careers ahead of their constituents’ best interests. Our campaign is offering an alternative. This campaign is a movement demanding progressive change that puts people, planet, and peace first. We are running a campaign based on policies like establishing Medicare for All, enacting a Green New Deal, and ending foreign wars, among sixty other progressive policies to improve the lives of working people on our islands and throughout the United States. To learn more about our campaign and what we stand for, visit brendanschultz.com
Steven Sparks: US House Hawaii District 2
I was a Cacoa farmer before the Volcano took out most of my orchard. I only have 30 trees left and they are sickly do to the acid rain during the eruption. I have been treating and the trees are starting to respond. Agriculture is the most important aspect of Hawaii's economy and producing enough food to feed ourselves should be the number goal for all of us and the future of the goodwill of our people. We need more processing plants and a better distribution system that will take all of working together, the Farmers, the Local governments and the Federal government. I will work for this and much better communications when I am elected. Thank you
Duke Aiona: Hawaii Governor
Serving eight years as Lt. Governor, nearly 12 years of service as a state judge, numerous years of service as a mediator and litigator, grandfather of eight, father of four, and keiki o ka aina, have provided me with the unique knowledge, skills, experience, and wisdom that is essential to serving as governor. This is what differentiates my candidacy from all the other candidates running for governor. The decision to run for governor was a very difficult one. Like many, I believe that we have lost our way as a nation and a state. Our moral compass is broken, we have lost our Spirit of Aloha. Unity and civil discourse must replace the division which currently defines our community. Trust and respect are essential to bringing balance back to our state. I am committed to establishing a sustainable food supply for the State of Hawaii. Identifying agricultural lands and transforming it into productive staple and crop resources is a priority. Assisting in addressing the challenges and issues facing agriculture and its workforce is also a necessity. I believe that our agricultural industry can be much more productive.
Vicky Cayetano: Hawaii Governor
I am bringing a business mindset and record of business success to the role of Governor. We cannot diversify the economy without creating a better business environment. One that fosters innovation, creativity and support of farmers. We also need a review of the current regulations. We cannot achieve food security without a prosperous agricultural industry. This requires investing in resources to help our farmers and ranchers. The DLNR and the HDOA must work in alignment to do this. Farmers and ranchers who are leasing state land from the DLNR need lease terms that are longer in order for them to make the appropriate investments. We must have a strategic approach at getting federal monies without compromising our local businesses. Achieving economic diversity and food sovereignty depends on a robust agricultural industry where we can export goods in addition to providing sustenance here at home. There’s a wide net in agriculture - from produce, coffee, tea, beef, specialty sauces and snacks etc. Any product that is uniquely and commercially Hawaii helps to diversify our economy and reduce our dependence on out of state goods.
Josh Green: Hawaii Governor
I was the physician in Kau on the Big Island for several years and still serve as an ER physician in Hawi. I was honored to serve as State Representative for Kona from 2004-2008 and as Senator for West Hawaii from 2008-2018, before becoming Lieutenant Governor. I fought hard for our region over the years and will continue to care for our people as Governor if you choose me. Jaime and I will bring Hawaii values to the Governor’s office and will focus on, in addition to agriculture, affordable housing, homeless solutions and many other concerns our people face.
Kaialiʻi Kahele: Hawaii Governor
Government leaders are tasked to provide a healthy and sustainable quality of life by giving direction to the systems within state government through a shared goal, so that all these systems, while operating at a high level within their areas of responsibility, are working together to make Hawaii the best place for our citizens to live and work. This is my initial agriculture plan for us to fine-tune. We are in this together. I am counting on you as partners to take ideas with specific action steps to develop final products. And, I am counting on hearing from you on how we can make Hawaii a healthy and sustainable place to live. Together we can achieve a Hawaii that is not for sale.
Keith Amemiya: Hawaii Lt. Governor
As a business leader and community advocate over the last 30 years, I have seen the various ways in which the opportunity for growth in our local businesses and local entrepreneurs has been passed over. The challenges facing our agricultural sector are no different, and with the need for economic diversification, food independence, and jobs creation in the state, I see great opportunity in our agricultural sector. One thing I am not is a career politician - meaning I haven’t allowed the influence of lobbyists and political jockeying to influence the way I intend to approach problem solving. The agricultural community can trust that I intend to bring a clean slate, invite fresh and innovative ideas, and restore faith and trust in our government if I’m fortunate enough to be elected.
Ikaika Anderson: Hawaii Lt. Governor
During my service in the City Council, I was a strong proponent of preserving agriculture and agricultural lands for that specific purpose. In the district that I served, Waimānalo, there were a number of landowners who used their lands for other-than-agricultural use. To address this, I introduced in 2018, Resolution 18-82, which wouldn’t permit new uses other than agricultural within the Waimānalo district on O‘ahu. That measure would have covered over 300 parcels. These parcels were to be used for the express purpose of agricultural development and would have contributed to the re-growth of the industry in that area.
Sylvia Luke: Hawaii Lt. Governor
Hawaii is located about 2,506 miles from the continental United States and that distance, poses challenges because 85-90% of Hawaii's food is imported. This causes a serious vulnerability during disasters and unexpected events that disrupt the shipment of supplies to the state. Additionally, Hawaii spends up to $3.1 million dollars a year to import food, causing a significant negative economic impact. I am a strong supporter to push for greater food self-sufficiency in our state. The 2012 DEBDT report stated that just replacing 10% of the food Hawaii imports would amount to approximately $313 million in revenue. Further, this would also mean that the funds would stay within the state’s economy rather than being spent off-shore, going directly into the pockets of Hawaii’s residents. Beyond that, eating local is simply healthier because it also means eating a more whole-food based diet, lowering rates of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. The leading cause of death in Hawaii is heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, illnesses associated with things we eat. Investing in healthier food will also be investing in a healthier community. There are several recent initiatives I was happy to see passed during the recent sessions:
● Helping farmers through legislation such as HB2466 which offers taro farmers a state tax exemption of $100,000 for income derived from taro, taro products and land used to produce taro.
● Training and producing more farmers through the University of Hawaii “Go Farm Hawaii” program, with Statewide Farmer Training Courses that include beginner courses, pro level, and even agricultural business courses.
● Creating supports through Food Hubs to act as distribution networks on behalf of small farmers so that farmers can focus on farming.
● Finally, initiatives such as Da Bux Program, Restaurant Card, and Aina Pono Farm to School (Act 218) provide more opportunities for the residents of Hawaii to purchase and enjoy the fresh food grown and raised here.
Seaula Jr. Tupa’i: Hawaii Lt. Governor
First of all, I'd like to say mahalo to the incredible staff at KonaCoffeeFarmers.org. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to share our mana'o with you are your reader base. Coming from the Big Island, I've seen first hand how important our local farmers are to, not only our communities, but to our state as a whole. I've also seen how their concerns are often overlooked in favor of big corporations and big interest groups. I'm running because I believe that all political power belongs to the People; and that many issues facing our state can be solved by just listening and acting in the best interest of the People. If elected, my mission will be to seek the best solutions for our local families, farmers, and business owners. My mission will be to ensure that our state's budget, land, and recourses are serving the people first and everyone else second. Mahalo.
David Tarnas: Hawaii State House District 8
As Chair of the House Water and Land Committee, I have been and will continue to be a strong advocate for agriculture by introducing and voting for bills and appropriations to support production agriculture, protection of agricultural land, combat alien invasive pest species, require increased purchasing of local agricultural products by state agencies, and promote Hawaii grown products. As the State Representative of North and South Kohala, I represent numerous commercial agriculture operations in my district. Over my eight years in the State House, I have cosponsored and voted for bills to increase the amount of agricultural products purchased by the Department of Agriculture in schools and the Department of Public Safety in prisons. I have also advocated for bills to exempt interisland sea transport of agricultural products and provide additional funding to combat the two-lined spittle bug and the coffee berry borer. More work needs to be done so I am working hard to get re-elected to the State House to continue my work at the legislature to support the Kona coffee industry and Hawaii agriculture. I would be grateful for your support.
Nicole Lowen: Hawaii State House District 7
It's so important that we continue to support local farmers in Hawaii for so many reasons--to ensure our food security, make Hawaii more independent and resilient, to reduce emissions associated with imports, and to diversify our economy away from relying too heavily on tourism. THese issues are all important to me and as the CHair of the Committee on Energy and Environmental Protection and a member of the agriculture committee, I will continue to work towards these goals.
Jeanné Kapela: Hawaii State House District 5
Local farmers are the heartbeat of West Hawai'i. Our farmers grow some of Hawai'i's most iconic agricultural treasures, including Kona and Ka'u Coffee and macadamia nuts. Yet, the looming threat of climate change threatens to undermine food security for our community and wreak havoc on our farmland. I believe that we need to pass policies that preserve the economic well-being of local farmers and preserve our environment. In addition to the policies that I outlined above, I am proud to have sponsored HB 1534 this year, which would have provided coffee growers with funding to offset the cost of purchasing organic fertilizer to strengthen tree immunity against coffee leaf rust. I also sponsored HR 86, a resolution that was adopted by the State House that calls on the Department of Agriculture to assist coffee farmers in purchasing organic fertilizer. Finally, I am committed to improving food security for our state. In 2021, I introduced HB 8, which proposed the establishment of a Hawai'i food security initiative within the Department of Agriculture and called for strategic goals to guide our state's effort to increase local food production. Finally, I have sponsored multiple pieces of legislation to crack down on pesticide abuse, including HB 2268 this year, and will continue to oppose the expansion of industrial agribusiness corporations that endanger public health. Restorative agriculture uplifts both working families and the health of our land. I will always fight for the sustainable, small, local farmers on whom Hawai'i's food security depends.
Colehour Bondera: Hawaii County Council District 6
Hawaii County has the majority of Hawaii state farms and we can and should be sure that agriculture is on the top of the list for decision making. I a certified organic diversified, small-scale farmer. I have worked with the USDA to provide advice (for five full years) regarding organic policies and decisions (as a member of the National Organic Standards Board). It is clear to me that voices who remain quiet are not listened to, and I seek to ensure that there are ways for farmers to be heard even if they cannot play such public roles as myself. My desire is to truly represent my constituents and listen to concerns and priorities and put those on the table at the County level. Remember that Hawaii was a net produce exporter, prior to the present chemical-focused agricultural systems. Hawaii can and should be able to produce what we need (on this island) to feed ourselves, together (as farmers and distributors and consumers) we can do so again. Lets' put the policies and infrastructure in place to ensure that we are all working together, eat well and all of our critical needs (such as housing, community health care, eduction, and roads/public transportation) are met. Please share with me your needs and concerns and I will aim to prioritize them in my newly elected role.
Dr. Holeka G. Inaba: Hawaii County Council District 8
As someone born and raised in Kona with deep ties to the Kona coffee industry, I will continue to work on behalf of our farmers within the the council's scope of influence and in advocating at the legislature on behalf of farmers as well. Your support in allowing me to continue this good work is greatly appreciated.