Hawai’i Farmers Union United Held 8th Annual Convention
Over 350 people attended Hawai’i Farmers Union United’s 8th Annual Convention at Oko’a Farms in Kula. Maui Mayor, Alan Arakawa and and Governor David Ige addressed the Convention. Senator Mike Gabbard, Chair of the State Senate Agriculture and Environment Committee, attended all three days, speaking several times.
Also present included State House Rep. Angus McKelvey of Lahaina, Rep. Cindy Evans of Kohala, and Maui County council members, Yuki Lei Sugimura, Kelly King and Alika Atay. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and Senator Mazie Hirono also addressed the Convention in written or video statements. Each day of the convention was chanted into session with traditional Hawaiian blessings.
There were presentations by USDA-NRCS, soil health experts and other practicing soil scientists and a wide range of farmers and experts in regenerative agriculture. The expert presenters addressed how regenerative practices restore the life in the land, grow resiliency, and contribute to consistent production on the farm.
Hawai’i Farmers Union United represents over 1,100 members spread among 13 chapters on the Islands of Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Hawai’i. The chapters range in size from 427 members in Maui’s Haleakala Chapter to Ka’u’s 16 members on the Big Island. Each chapter represents a unique geographic and cultural area. Maui’s Mauna Kahalawai, at 220 members, is the second largest chapter.
The convention also debated and adopted policies as “strategic priorities” to guide the Union’s leadership. These included policies on labor retention and marketing and living on farms. Prior to the convention, the Union conducted a survey of its members which revealed that between 52% and 96% of its members support initiatives to promote Union membership, strategic planning, communication and regenerative agriculture. These were then proposed as policies that the convention adopted by nearly unanimous votes.
The members voted the morning of the final day on the election of a President to serve the next two years. This was the first year in the last six years that there was a contest for the Presidency. It was also the first year the Union implemented its system of delegate voting. Of a total current membership of 1,195 eligible to vote, a total of 1,179 were present either in person or by delegates. When the votes were counted, Vincent Mina received 964 or about 82% of the vote and the contender, Faith Chase, received 205 or about 18%.
HFUU-HFUF president, Vincent Mina, summed up the convention, “With the blessing of the land owners, and the cooperation and collaboration of Oko’a Farms, which is leasing the land, along with our enthusiastic cadre of sponsors and volunteers, we were able to host the agricultural event we all envisioned.”
Hawai’i Farmers Union United asserts that a multitude of smallholder diversified family farms that implement regenerative eco-logical techniques, in growing and raising our food, will create a resilient, vital and productive agricultural system to better feed the people of Hawai‘i.