Maui News

Council passes bill to implement organic standards and regulations at Kula Ag Park

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Regional location of Kula Agricultural Park. PC: Munekiyo Hiraga

The council passed a bill Friday that reserves the Kula Agricultural Park Phase 1 Expansion area for practices that comply with the National Organic Standards Act.

Bill 160, CD1, FD1 (2022) promotes regenerative agriculture by prioritizing soil health and reducing the use of harmful chemicals in the 260-acre Kula Agricultural Park Phase 1 expansion area, according to Council member Gabe Johnson who introduced the bill.

This legislation will allow local farmers increased access to labor and land resources to support production, processing, distribution and consumption of local food, he said.

Property location of Kula Agricultural Park. PC: Munekiyo Hiraga

“Regenerative agriculture is a forward-thinking system that works to naturally nurture soil, protect water resource and biodiversity and combat climate change,” said Johnson, chair of the Agriculture, Diversification, Environment and Public Transportation Committee in a news release. “We need to create an environment that supports our farmers and agriculture economy.”

Although the Kula Agricultural Park Phase 1 expansion area must follow the permitted guidelines on pesticides and fertilizers, conventional farming is still an option for farmers on the already established 445-acre Kula Agricultural Park. Bill 160, CD1, FDI (2022) alters the lease application requirements, establishes a waitlist for prospective lessees and prioritizes food for local consumption over non-food crops or crops for export.

Conceptual Plan of Kula Agricultural Park. PC: Munekiyo Hiraga

“By removing some of the barriers for new farmers to apply for these lots, such as requiring a marketing plan and financial statements, we can support a long-term increase in food production,” said Johnson. “Many farmers are interested in organic farming practices, but access to farmland is one of the biggest barriers to the success of an emerging farmer.”


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