Local Food Coalition Campaigns to Support Constitutional Amendment
By Maui Now Staff
The Local Food Coalition, a group of farmers, ranchers and food manufacturers that are working to increase the local food supply, announced their support this week of Constitutional Amendment 2.
The amendment, which will appear on the general election ballot, seeks to add agricultural enterprises to the list of industries that can access special purpose revenue bonds.
The amendment relating to agricultural enterprises poses the question: “Shall the State be authorized to issue special purpose revenue bonds and use the proceeds from the bonds to assist agricultural enterprises on any type of land, rather than only important agricultural lands?”
Organization representatives issued a press release in support of the amendment urging voters to cast a “yes” vote saying, “This would allow farms, ranches, nurseries, aquaculture and others to invest in starting or growing their agricultural operations.”
“My family has been farming in Hawaiʻi for over 20 years and it is rewarding, but also difficult work,” said Shin Ho of Ho Farms on Oʻahu in the press release statement. “Allowing businesses like my family’s farm to access special purpose revenue bonds will enable investments in critical infrastructure that will empower us to grow more local food.”
Special purpose revenue bonds are described as lower-cost loans from private investors; they are not grants or subsidies from the State and taxpayer money is not used. The loans are designated for specific projects and the project owner is solely responsible for making principal and interest payments.
“Special purpose revenue bonds will help to make Hawaiʻi more sustainable and resilient,” said Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch on Hawaiʻi Island in the release. “With them, we can invest in water systems for irrigation, local processing facilities, on-farm energy systems, and waste recycling facilities that can return nutrients to our soils.”
Currently, the organization says special purpose revenue bonds are only available to agricultural enterprises on designated important agricultural land, which makes up an estimated 6% of farmland in Hawaiʻi, according to the Local Food Coalition. “Amendment 2 would allow for agricultural enterprises on any type of land to have the same option for low-cost financing,” the group said.
In order for the amendment to pass, it needs a majority affirmative or “yes” vote. Any ballots left blank would be counted as “no” votes.
Amendment 2 is not related to the issues surrounding genetically modified organisms, or GMO, nor is it associated in any way to the GMO initiative on the Maui ballot.