Chair Wooley, Vice-Chair Onishi, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports SB937 which develops a food resiliency initiative program, including a new branch in the department of agriculture, a task force, and would appropriate the necessary funds to accomplish this.
As we have testified on other bills on this issue, League of Women Voters has long supported a system of sustainable, regenerative agricultural production that moves toward an environmentally sound agricultural sector which includes promoting stewardship to preserve and protect human and natural agricultural resources.
The League believes that if agriculture is to be sustainable and regenerative in Hawaii, given its isolation from the Mainland, it must include increasing production of locally grown foods; encouraging the marketing, purchasing, and consumption of locally grown foods; and supporting an agricultural workforce and infrastructure.
Having a dedicated branch in the Department of Agriculture to oversee this initiative and a task force to set forth specific benchmarks, together with a timeline to achieve them, would provide the impetus needed for a coordinated effort with all governmental and non-governmental agencies and programs having similar goals This would move the state to agriculture sustainability while improving the economic viability of Hawaii’s agriculture industry.
The League is gratified to note the number of sustainability-related bills introduced this session, and we believe that this bill provides the transparency and accountability that citizens need and deserve while Hawaii endeavors to transition to a position of agriculture sustainability.
We urge you to pass this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.