Report Title:

Taro Security and Purity Task Force; Appropriation



Creating the taro security and purity task force and appropriating funds for that purpose.



S.B. NO.













relating to taro.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature recognized the need to develop non-genetic modification based solutions to protect taro from disease and insects on a statewide basis.  In senate concurrent resolution no. 206 (2007), the legislature requested that the department of agriculture develop a taro security and purity research program that is designed to ensure that taro can be saved and protected from natural attack.

     In 2007, 1.8 million pounds of taro were imported to Hawai‘i.  Under current biosecurity rules, the department of agriculture was unable to inspect much of these imports for threats to existing taro crops in the State.

     At the same time, taro farmers are struggling with high rates of pests and disease infestation, rising crop and land costs, lack of access to quality water and land resources, declines in crop cultivar biodiversity, and a decrease in the number of families able to continue the taro farming lifestyle.  Taro and taro farms are a visual image that is critical to Hawaii‘s economic vitality in agriculture, tourism, health and wellness, and education and the arts.  Taro and taro farms help to sell Hawai‘i to the world.

     The department of agriculture was tasked under senate concurrent resolution 206 (2007) to collaborate with taro growers and various native Hawaiian groups to develop and adopt a program that would:

     (1)  Allow the department of agriculture's biosecurity program to protect crops in Hawai‘i by inspecting foreign crops upon entrance to the State, and preventing any viruses or insects from entering the State;

     (2)  Allow alternative forms of research on taro other than genetic modification;

     (3)  Provide public outreach, engagement, and education on taro research and protection; and

     (4)  Request the United States Department of Agriculture to have the Alomae/Bobone virus disease complex and taro beetles designated as "actionable pests" in the findings of the United States Department of Agriculture and the Hawai‘i department of agriculture report to prevent entry into Hawai‘i from foreign countries.

The department of agriculture initiated a dialogue with taro farmers from each island, researchers and representatives from the University of Hawai‘i, the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau, and the office of Hawaiian affairs.  From that dialogue a joint report was drafted describing the outcomes and recommendations of the participants.  The joint report included proposed legislation and was developed and forwarded to the legislature.

     One of the primary recommendations of that report was to form a taro security and purity task force in order to guide policy and prioritize research for the protection of taro in Hawai‘i.

     To ensure that such a task force would have the full participation of taro farmers throughout the State, who have faced crop hardships for many years without financial assistance and whose resources are limited, the participants recommended that the task force be funded under a legislative appropriation for fiscal year 2009.

     The purpose of this Act is to establish the taro security and purity task force and appropriate funds out of the general revenues of the State of Hawai‘i for the formation and operation of the task force with full participation of taro farmers from all islands.

     SECTION 2.  There is established the taro security and purity task force.  For administrative purposes the taro security and purity task force shall be placed within the department of agriculture.

     SECTION 3.  The taro security and purity task force shall consist of the following members or their representatives:

     (1)  The department of agriculture;

     (2)  The office of Hawaiian affairs;

     (3)  The University of Hawai‘i; and

     (4)  The Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation;

     The taro security and purity task force shall also have a minimum of two representatives from the taro farming communities of each of the islands of Kaua‘i, O‘ahu, Maui, Moloka‘i and Hawai‘i and one representative of botanical gardens or taro collections in the State.

     At no time shall less than fifty per cent of the task force be comprised of taro farmers.

     The taro security and purity task force members shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for expenses, including travel expenses, incurred in the performance of the duties of the task force.

     SECTION 4.  The taro security and purity task force shall:

     (1)  Develop guidelines, protocols, and recommendations for taro policy, non-genetic modification based taro research, and the allocation of resources to ensure that taro is saved and protected in Hawai‘i;

     (2)  Develop a program of incentives and projects that have the support of a broad spectrum of taro growers that will enhance taro security, protect taro purity, provide support to taro farms and farmers, and improve taro markets for the long-term;

     (3)  Support the recovery of traditional Hawaiian taro cultivars throughout the State; and

     (4)  Increase public awareness of the value of taro and its role culturally, socially, in health and well-being, environmentally, and economically in the State.

     SECTION 5.  The members of the taro security and purity task force shall select a chairperson from among its members.

     SECTION 6.  The taro security and purity task force shall meet at times and locations to be determined by its members; provided that the first meeting of the taro security and purity task force shall be no later than three months after the effective date of this Act.

     SECTION 7.  The taro security and purity task force shall submit a written report to the legislature summarizing its program, the results achieved, and recommended legislation, by no later than the 2009 regular session.

     SECTION 8.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawai‘i the sum of $650,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2008-2009 to be allotted as follows:

     (1)  $250,000 for the convening of the taro security and purity task force and the conducting of dialogues on all islands;

     (2)  $100,000 for retaining the minimum of at least one person to facilitate, coordinate, communicate, and record the work of the taro security and purity task force;

     (3)  $150,000 for archival and ethnographic research of the history of taro and taro practices in Hawai‘i and the traditional Hawaiian cultivars to aid in its revival and to revise Bulletin 84:  Taro Varieties in Hawai‘i (1939) which is the key reference for taro growers and researchers;

     (4)  $125,000 for protection of the Moloka‘i taro varieties collection, the oldest and most complete collection and source of taro varieties in Hawai‘i; and

     (5)  $25,000 for preparing the final report to be submitted to the legislature.

     The sum appropriated shall be expended by the department of agriculture for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 9.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2008.