Chairs Nishihara and Solomon, Vice-Chairs Kouchi and Shimabakuro, and Committee Members:
The League of Women Voters of Hawaii supports SB1284 which would require the Department of Agriculture to develop a food sustainability standard to promote local food production to help diversify the local economy 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.
We have seen opinion polls that show this issue to be one of the top political concerns of voters in Hawaii. They also show that local people are prepared to pay a little more than for imported food because they place a premium on locally grown food.
We are pleased that a number of bills are now before the legislature to promote more self-sufficiency and are in support of Article XI, Section 3 of the Hawaii State Constitution: “The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands. The legislature shall provide standards and criteria to accomplish the foregoing.”
We urge you to pass this bill. Thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.