H.B. NO.














relating to agriculture.





     SECTION 1.  The legislature finds that during the last several decades, population growth and migration to Hawaii have resulted in urban encroachment into rural areas traditionally reserved for agricultural activity.  This intrusion brings inevitable conflict when new neighbors face dust, pesticide use, noise, and other activity typical of farming operations.  State legislatures across the nation have responded by giving farmers a basic "right to farm" without the fear of lawsuits brought by offended neighbors.

     In 2001, Hawaii joined the rest of the country by passing the Hawaii Right to Farm Act.  As one judge remarked while dismissing a lawsuit against a pig farmer, "pork production generates odors which cannot be prevented, and so long as the human race consumes pork, someone must tolerate the smell."  However, right-to-farm laws do not give farmers complete freedom to do as they please.  Farmers must operate in a legal and reasonable manner to be eligible for the law's protection and must follow best management practices.

     The legislature also finds that despite being one of the State's most important economic sectors, Hawaii farmers continue to face an onslaught of problems that challenge their right to farm as well as their long-term viability and sustainability.  Article XI, section 3, of the Hawaii State Constitution mandates that "The State shall conserve and protect agricultural lands, promote diversified agriculture, increase agricultural self-sufficiency and assure the availability of agriculturally suitable lands."  This policy sets forth the State's responsibility to oversee and implement laws and rules to guide the success and development of Hawaii's agricultural community.  In contrast, no county charter appropriately provides a county role in regulating agriculture, nor does any county government dedicate a department with financial resources and qualified agricultural and scientific professionals necessary to fulfill that role.

     The legislature instead finds that the Hawaii department of agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States Food and Drug Administration, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency are the governmental entities responsible for the oversight of agriculture in Hawaii, as well as of agricultural imports and exports.  The Hawaii Right to Farm Act, the United States Department of Agriculture's Plant Protection Act, and other state and federal mandates provide consistent policies that apply to all farmers doing business in Hawaii, regardless of the crop or commodity being grown.  Hawaii farmers have made great strides over the years, and state laws and administrative rules ensure uniformity and consistency, reflect changes in the agricultural industry, and encourage investment in infrastructure and technology.

     The legislature further finds that technology plays an ever-increasing role in agriculture.  It can be found in the methodology and equipment that have made farmers more successful, sustainable, and better stewards of the land and resources.  Technology permits farmers to use resources more efficiently and to better manage inputs, allowing them to grow more high-quality crops with increasing efficiency and success.  The use of these technologies strengthens the State socially, economically, and environmentally by creating local job opportunities, enhancing food security, and making more efficient use of land, labor, water, and necessary inputs.

     The purpose of this Act is to protect farmers' right to farm and to promote lawful and proven agricultural activities that are consistent with long-standing state and federal laws, rules, and regulations.

     SECTION 2.  Section 165-4, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended to read as follows:

     "§165-4  Right to farm.  (a)  No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices.  There shall be a rebuttable presumption that a farming operation does not constitute a nuisance.

     (b)  No law, ordinance, or resolution of any unit of local government shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations."

     SECTION 3.  New statutory material is underscored.

     SECTION 4.  This Act shall take effect upon its approval.


































Report Title:

Right to Farm; Counties



Amends Hawaii's Right to Farm Act to ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in agricultural practices.




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