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September 17, 2014

Hawaii's Agricultural Community Joins Forces with Food Industry to Support Constitutional Amendment 2

Categories: Food | Press Release | Featured

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HONOLULU – The Local Food Coalition, joined by farmers, ranchers, chefs and other supporters of local agriculture held a press conference today at the Neal Blaisdell Farmers Market to announce their collective support for Constitutional Amendment 2.

The amendment, which will appear second on the general election ballot, will add agricultural enterprises to the list of industries that can access special purpose revenue bonds. This would allow farms, ranches, nurseries, aquaculture and others to invest in starting or growing their agricultural operations.

"My family has been farming in Hawaii for over 20 years and it is rewarding, but also difficult work,” said Shin Ho of Ho Farms on Oahu. “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 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 Hawaii more sustainable and resilient,” said Michelle Galimba of Kuahiwi Ranch on Hawaii Island. “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, special purpose revenue bonds are only available to agricultural enterprises on designated important agricultural land, which makes up only six percent of farmland in Hawaii. Amendment 2 would allow for agricultural enterprises on any type of land to have the same option for low-cost financing.  

Other industries that are currently eligible for this special private financing include manufacturing or industrial enterprises, hospitals, nonprofit care facilities, private schools and others.

As with any constitutional amendment on the ballot, a majority affirmative vote is needed for Amendment 2 to pass and any ballots left blank are tallied as “no” votes. That is why the Local Food Coalition is mounting a grassroots campaign to educate voters on the amendment and its potential for helping Hawaii’s agricultural community.

Amendment 2 is not related to the issues surrounding genetically modified organisms, or GMO, nor is it associated in any way to any county ballot initiatives on GMO, including in Maui County. Amendment 2 is a proposed statewide constitutional amendment that will appear on the general election ballot in all Hawaii counties. The outcome of Amendment 2 will not have an impact on GMO-related ballot initiatives, nor will any GMO-related ballot initiatives affect Amendment 2.

In conjunction with today’s press conference, the Coalition launched a website at http://VoteYesForLocalFood.com, where voters can learn more about Amendment 2, hear from those who can benefit from having access to low-cost financing, and sign up to show public support for the cause.

In addition, members of the Local Food Coalition and other friends of Hawaii agriculture will be visiting events, farmers markets and other venues across the state to raise awareness of Amendment 2 and urge voters to cast a “yes” vote.

To learn more about the Local Food Coalition and other supporters of Amendment 2, visit http://VoteYesForLocalFood.com.