Listen up to plans for dairy farm on Kauai

Nearly 2,000 cows can produce a lot of milk and a lot of jobs. We like milk. We like jobs. But that many cows can also produce a lot of poop and a lot of pee. While we’re not wild about the poop and pee, the question is, could it cause problems on Kauai? Is it a threat to the island’s environment, the water, the ground, the air?

We encourage residents to listen closely and attend two public meetings scheduled Thursday on Hawaii Dairy Farm’s plan for a grass-fed dairy on 582 acres in Mahaulepu that could be in operation next year. We don’t want anyone claiming they didn’t know about this project until they smelled it.

The meetings:

The Kauai Planning & Action Alliance’s presentation and discussion “Got Milk?” is set for 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Kauai Community College, Tech 114.  

Speakers will be Jim Garmatz, dairy manager and Amy Hennessey, communications director. Because seating is limited, anyone planning to attend must RSVP today to kpaa@kauainetwork.org or calling 632-2005.

A second meeting is 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Koloa Neighorhood Center.

Two organizations, Surfrider and Malama Mahaulepu, have announced they have questions about the effects of the dairy farm, which will be on land leased from Grove Farm Company. Their concerns include impacts on historic agricultural lands, air, groundwater, stream and ocean water quality.

Considering that we already have brown water advisories when it rains hard, it seems a dairy farm of this size would add to that problem.

On the smell that 1,800 cows will produce, those with Hawaii Dairy Farms say you won’t notice it thanks to the latest and best environmental practices. And they also point out the nearest neighborhood will be two miles away. Still, it seems like it would be difficult to mask the odor of that many cows. According to one Garden Island reader, a lactating cow will produce 37 times more urine and feces per day than a human being.

We might note that this dairy farm isn’t expected to drive down the price of milk, but hold it at current prices. But it would be a step toward self-sufficiency for Kauai and mean not being completely reliant on milk being shipped here.

Don’t think your input doesn’t count. While the dairy farm has an approved conservation plan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, there are more steps that must be completed. Hawaii Dairy Farms is waiting approval and permits from the Department of Health and from the county, as well.

Enough said. We hope to see you at these meetings.

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