H.B. NO.



H.D. 2


S.D. 1


C.D. 1












SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Hawaii imports eighty-five per cent of its food and is considered highly vulnerable in issues of food security as a state. Climate change significantly increases this vulnerability with sea level rise and intensified weather patterns in the Pacific, such as droughts, hurricanes, and floods. In 2016, the governor pledged to double food production in Hawaii by 2030 at the International Union for Conservation of Nature World Conservation Congress, as part of Hawaii's commitments to the world and the State and in order to begin to address this import inequity.

The legislature further finds that small farms on ten acres or less in Hawaii produce a significant portion of locally-grown and locally-consumed food on each island. The small farm sector of agriculture is growing, yet the 2017 census of agriculture reports that the average small-scale farmer in Hawaii makes less than $40,000 per year, with losses of almost $10,000 annually due to the high costs of farming, including land and water. To accomplish the State's 2030 goal for local food production, there is an urgent need to better support small farmers including through small economic incentives to build a larger market.

The legislature additionally finds that the department of agriculture has identified staple starches as the greatest food security risk in the State. Taro is a hypoallergenic complex carbohydrate that plays a critical role in the health of families, particularly Native Hawaiians. Yet, the cost of poi remains inaccessible to families most in need of this important staple starch food. Taro is one of Hawaii's highest yielding staple starch food crops, producing ten thousand and twenty thousand pounds per acre per annum under wet and dry cultivation, respectively; however, taro is severely underproduced in the State. The 2017 census of agriculture reported two hundred seven farms and four hundred ninety-five acres of taro in wetland and dryland production. An estimated two hundred to three hundred additional acres are unreported or in subsistence taro cultivation. Annual reported production averages four million tons; however, taro imports are estimated to soon exceed local production.

The legislature also finds that loi kalo, or wetland taro systems, are additionally recognized for their potential to mitigate other impacts of climate change by functioning as riparian buffers and sediment retention basins. Underground foods, such as taro, can often survive hurricanes or flood events and can be harvested to address immediate food shortages where the capacity to store and cook food can be retained.

The legislature further finds that the report of the taro security and purity task force to the 2010 legislature recommended a number of supports to make taro farming affordable, including access to land, water, mentoring, and economic incentives. The counties of Maui and Kauai have enacted ordinances that exempt kuleana lands in active taro production from county taxes. These ordinances provide limited relief to some taro farms but are not available in all counties and are insufficient for young farmers to offset typically low incomes experienced by taro growers or mitigate the effects of competition from imports.

The legislature additionally finds that, in 1901, the first legislature of the Territory of Hawaii recognized the role that taro played in feeding the nation by passing Senate Bill No. 87 to encourage the cultivation of taro by exempting taro and the cultivation of taro from all state taxes. While Senate Bill No. 87 was never signed into law, its intentions were clear in encouraging the production of more taro.

The legislature also finds that, in recognition of the critical importance of protecting and perpetuating the traditional practice of taro farming as part of Hawaii's cultural identity and its role in local food security, there is a compelling interest in enacting a law in present day that is similar to Senate Bill No. 87.

The purpose of this Act is to create stronger economic incentives for new taro farmers, improve the livelihoods of existing taro farmers, and reduce the cost of poi for local residents by exempting the gross proceeds or income from the sale of any product resulting from the cultivation and production of unprocessed taro from the general excise tax.

SECTION 2. Chapter 237, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"237-   Exemption for the cultivation and production of unprocessed taro. There shall be exempted from, and excluded from the measure of, the taxes imposed by this chapter all of the gross proceeds or income received from the sale of any product resulting from the cultivation and production of unprocessed taro, or of any value-added product of which the primary ingredient is taro or taro leaf. This exemption shall not apply to bulk buyers or shippers of raw or value-added taro products, supermarkets, or big box stores.

As used in this section, "primary ingredient" means the ingredient of highest percentage in a product and listed first on the product's label."

SECTION 3. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 4. This Act shall take effect upon its approval, and shall be repealed on June 30, 2027.


Report Title:

Unprocessed Taro; Cultivation and Production; General Excise Tax; Exemption



Exempts the gross proceeds or income received from the sale of any product resulting from the cultivation and production of unprocessed taro from the general excise tax. Repeals 6/30/2027. (CD1)




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