State Budget Supports Agricultural Initiatives
By Maui Now Staff
A state budget recently passed by the House (HB500, HD1) has provided $220,812 for four new positions in the Pesticides Branch of the state Department of Agriculture to oversee and enforce the use of pesticides.
“Agriculture is vital to our state and as such the budget for the Department of Agriculture focuses on key areas at helping the industry and the department in its mission,” said Rep. Richard Onishi, vice chair of the House’s Agriculture Committee and supporter of the budget.
“One of the current major topics of discussion in our islands today centers around pesticide use and regulation by the state. HB500, HD1 addresses this problem by providing $220,812 and four pesticide enforcement specialists to assist the department with their pesticide regulatory use and surveillance activities, as well as the pesticide use certification and education pursuits.”
The budget also includes finances to support several important agriculture initiatives according to Rep. Onishi. It includes $1.2 million for maintenance and repair of the aging Molokaʻi irrigation system, and $2.3 million for the design and construction of the Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant.
“Farmers require water to survive,” Onishi said. “Due to the age and current condition of many of our irrigation systems, most are in dire need of repair and maintenance.”
“Once farmers grow their crops, they need a facility where they can take their produce and prepare it for sale. The Kamuela Vacuum Cooling Plant is that type of post-harvest facility. It enables farmers to quickly bring down the temperature of their produce which then ensures a longer shelf life, increase product quality and lessens the potential of product degradation.”
“The facility will be built in line with new standards that are being determined by the rules governing the Food Safety Modernization Act. Plans for this facility will also include up to a 100kw photovoltaic system as a means of an environmentally friendly renewable energy source and will lessen the plant’s future expenses,” Onishi said.