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80 Organizations Support East Maui Kalo Farmers Against HB2501

Wendy Osher · March 14, 2016, 8:13 AM HST (Updated March 14, 2016, 8:13 AM) · 1 Comment
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HC&S final harvest. Photo: Chris Archer.

HC&S final harvest. Photo: Chris Archer.

More than 80 organizations signed a coalition statement in support of restoring water to East Maui streams as a group of taro farmers from the region voice opposition to a measure that they say would allow continued water diversions.

House Bill 2501 seeks a holdover disposition of water rights that would allow Alexander & Baldwin to continue diverting water as it transitions away from sugar production in favor of diversified agriculture.  A companion measure in the Senate, SB3001 was deferred in February.

Lo‘i Kalo (taro patch) on the penninsula in Ke‘anae known as the lowlands. The near ocean lo‘i makes for a distinct flavor of kalo.

Lo‘i Kalo (taro patch) on the penninsula in Ke‘anae known as the lowlands. The near ocean lo‘i makes for a distinct flavor of kalo. Photo courtesy: Ke‘anae Lowlands

“We are farmers, too,” said Māhealani Wendt in a press release statement.  Wendt is an East Maui taro farmer who says she has suffered from the diversion of millions of gallons of water by Alexander & Baldwin. “The Legislature should not be playing favorites between a failing industrial agricultural venture on the one hand, and the hundreds of families and small farmers doing actual, successful diversified agriculture on Maui.”

Concern citizens announced that they plan to visit with legislators today to urge them to stop HB2501 from advancing.

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Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 15 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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