S.B. NO.














Relating to agriculture.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that Hawaii is located approximately 2,506 miles from the continental United States.  About eighty-five to ninety per cent of Hawaii's food is imported, which makes Hawaii particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and global events that disrupt shipping and other modes of transporting food.  The Hawaii emergency management agency has estimated that the State will have food and water for only five to seven days after a port closure.

     Furthermore, the economic impact of food import replacement is significant.  Food expenditures of local consumers in 2014 are estimated at $4,100,000,000.  Assuming that eighty-five per cent of the food consumed in the State is imported, this translates to $3,500,000,000 of food expenditures leaving the State each year.  In 2016, the department of business, economic development, and tourism released reports on consumer spending in 2014 (2013-2014 survey period for the city and county of Honolulu) by county.  Based on those reports, each household in Hawaii spent an average of $9,100 on food during the survey period.  Using the same estimate of eighty-five per cent for imported food, each household in Hawaii spent an average of $7,740 on imported food during the survey period.  Growing food within the State enables the expenditures on food to remain in the local economy.

     According to the most recent Census of Agriculture (published in 2012), there are seven thousand farms in Hawaii, with the average age of the farmer at 60.4.  Of these farms, only twelve per cent, or 829 farms, earn $50,000 or more in sales per year.  To increase local food production and ensure continued interest in farming as a profession, support is needed to develop financially viable agricultural operations.  Existing farms must expand revenues and yield while new farmers focused on commercial production are developed.

     The University of Hawaii college of tropical agriculture and human resources developed the GoFarm Hawaii program to provide business consulting and technical assistance to farmers and food manufacturers using locally-grown produce and develop new commercial-scale farmers.

     In each of the past three years, the business consulting group has assisted about seventy farmers with business plan development for loans, leases, and grants, financial and cost of production analysis, marketing, and value-added production. Examples of value-added products where GoFarm Hawaii has consulted include poi, drinks, dressings, pickles, flour, chips, ice cream, and dips using locally grown produce.

     To develop new commercial farmers, GoFarm Hawaii has established infrastructure and staff to operate beginning farmer training at five locations on four islands:  two on Oahu and one each on Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii islands.  The experiential, certificate-based program includes production and business education.  During the past three years, over one hundred students have graduated from the farmer training program, with almost fifty per cent starting a farm business and eighteen per cent working for others in the agricultural industry.  A recent survey of all graduates reflected that sixty-five per cent were still farming on a total of one hundred eighty-two acres of land, with thirty-five per cent of land in active production.  There continues to be demand for the program.  In 2018, sixty-nine aspiring farmers applied for twenty-four Oahu-based openings.

     The legislature finds that the GoFarm Hawaii program can improve food security and self-sufficiency, benefit the local economy by promoting locally sourced inputs and the manufacturing thereof, and create financially sustainable commercial-scale farmers.  It has established a partnership network of educators, established farmers, landowners, market outlets, government programs, and support organizations that is prepared to support participants and increase the likelihood of success.

     In 2017, program costs totaled approximately $1,300,000.  The program has relied completely on federal, state, and private grants.  To manage the program at existing levels, operating costs for fiscal year 2020 are anticipated at $1,400,000 with anticipated grant income of $400,000.

     The purpose of this Act is to:

     (1)  Appropriate funds for the GoFarm Hawaii program to provide business consulting, technical assistance, and beginner farmer training on at least four islands; and

     (2)  Require the GoFarm Hawaii program to provide the chairperson of the board of agriculture with the program's annual goals and outputs and outcomes.

     SECTION 2.  There is appropriated out of the general revenues of the State of Hawaii the sum of $1,000,000 or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2019-2020 and the same sum or so much thereof as may be necessary for fiscal year 2020-2021 for the GoFarm Hawaii program to provide business consulting, technical assistance, and beginning farmer training on at least four islands.

     The sums appropriated shall be expended by the University of Hawaii for the purposes of this Act.

     SECTION 3.  The GoFarm Hawaii program shall provide the chairperson of the board of agriculture with:

     (1)  The program's annual goals for the chairperson's review; and

     (2)  A semi-annual report outlining the program's outputs and outcomes.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect on July 1, 2019.








Report Title:

GoFarm Hawaii; Food Sustainability; New Farmer Training and Business Support; Appropriation



Appropriates funds for the GoFarm Hawaii program.  Requires GoFarm Hawaii to provide the chairperson of the board of agriculture with the program's annual goals and a semi-annual report outlining program outputs and outcomes.




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