Letters to the editor: 12-15-18

Don’t gut land fund

The 2 percent land fund is being gutted by the charter commission — email to the Charter Commission: Charter.commission@hawaiicounty.gov.

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Ask them to strengthen the 2 percent land fund program with a full time staff person paid for by the fund and not gut the 2 percent land fund program by reducing it to 3/4 percent and placing the maintenance fund in the county code where it can be changed at the whim of the mayor and council. This has been done before!

Three times people voted for the Land Fund by 63 percent. Stand up for what matters to you and your keiki! The 2 percent land fund has saved 4,400 acres on our island. These lands were proposed by your neighbors and friends. These lands are cared for by our communities. There are 2,200 to be purchased in the next month.

One-third of the money came from matching funds, but the charter commission and Harry Kim want to delete the clause that says: “This property (or easement) was acquired with money from the Public Access, Open Space and Natural Resources Preservation Fund. It shall be held in perpetuity for the use and enjoyment of the people of Hawaii County and may not be sold, mortgaged, traded or transferred in any way.”

This means the county could sell our land. This would cut off matching funds. Why would donors want to help buy land if the mayor could sell the land and put the money in the general fund? Would this result in lawsuits? Probably. More information and the history is available at: https://debbiehecht.com/2018/03/09/hawaii-county-and-the-big-islands-2-land-fund-report-3-9-2018.

Please show up for our Big Island lands. The Hawaii State Motto is: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono,” which literally translates to “the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” Is this important to you and your ohana?

Debbie Hecht

Kailua-Kona

Buying local beef matters

A local beef vendor would not only feed our keiki in school, it would help to mitigate one of our state’s biggest issues. In 2016, Gov. David Ige set a goal of doubling Hawaii’s local food production by 2020. We are halfway to 2020 and still importing 90 percent of our food. Just one devastating natural disaster could put our residents at serious risk of food shortages. What are we doing about it?

If and when a large hurricane, tsunami, or earthquake hits our islands, the outcome would be catastrophic. Hawaii has 1.4 million residents and 8 million annual visitors. The food supply in our supermarkets would feed our state for only for a week.

One of the best opportunities to increase local food production is through the cattle industry. How much longer can we afford to pay $6-8 for a gallon of milk? Ninety percent of beef and 80 percent of milk are imported into the state. Annually, Hawaii consumers spend more than $3 billion on imported foods, like beef and milk, when we could produce them locally and keep the cash flow within the state.

Hawaii has had a long, successful history of cattle production since 1793, when Captain George Vancouver first brought cattle to the islands. Because of our ability to grow grass year-round here and our 1.1 million acres of farm land, local cattle have thrived. In the 1980s, 90 percent of the beef raised in Hawaii was consumed locally.

Incredibly, we now annually export 72 percent of our calves to the mainland via cargo ship and plane. The calves are fattened and slaughtered there and then shrink-wrapped and shipped back to the islands for us to eat. Shouldn’t we instead raise them locally for their entire lives?

In the wake of Ige signing House Bill 2182 to make Hawaii carbon neutral by 2045, it seems ironic that we ship cattle to the mainland and back. Cargo boats are responsible for 4 percent of all climate change emissions, and a Boeing 747 plane uses 36,000 gallons of gas for a roundtrip flight to the West Coast.

The annual demand for beef in Hawaii is 89.2 million pounds, an average of 54.1 pounds of beef per resident. The Hawaii Department of Education anticipates needing 1.5 million pounds of locally produced beef for student lunches next year. However, the overall annual production of beef in Hawaii is only 5.5 million pounds. The remaining four million pounds would satisfy less than five percent of the state’s demand.

If we want to reach our local food production goal and decrease reliance on imports by 2020, we need to start somewhere. An OmniTrak Group study showed that Hawaii consumers want to buy more locally grown food. Raising and slaughtering cattle here could help us work towards our goal, while boosting the economy and providing new jobs for residents across the state.

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Matt Nakamoto

Honolulu