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Many concerns with Hawaii Dairy Farm plan

The public rises almost as one opposed to this impending fiasco. Excellent articles (Jacqueline Hoban, from a third generation cattle and dairy family) wrote to TGI about her firsthand knowledge of the negative dairy impact certainty on our fragile island.

Let’s take a look at facts, with some forward thinking.

First, and not appearing in the media, is that Grove Farm owns the 570-plus acres in Mahaulepu, and leases it to Hawaii Dairy Farms. That’s Steve Case, billionaire, and his designates, making money by diminishing all of us on island.

The HDF project is owned by Pierre Omidyar, a billionaire with a net worth, according to Forbes, of $8 billion.

Do you see a pattern here? Billionaires tinkering with Kauai because, unless resisted by elected and bureaucratic forces and us, the residents, will proceed unfettered by those in authority.

Arithmetic time. The HDF ads in TGI continue to state that 700 cows on 500 acres equals 1.5 cows per acre. This number is being perpetuated in other articles. But wait! In order to calculate cow per acre, one divides 700 into 500 (NOTE: reported numbers rounded for ease of calculation; the 570-plus acres will be partially absorbed by setbacks, ponds, milking facilities, fencing, equipment storage and no doubt some inaccessible slopes and rocks, thus 500 acres) and the result is not 1.5, but in fact 0.71 cows per acre.

As Ms. Hoban pointed out, also the first time in print in TGI, that in order to have lactating (creating milk) cows must be pregnant. Calves have a gestation of some 280 days, so it is not a leap of faith to imagine a doubling of cow head count.

Billionaires. Barging in and doing what they want. Omidyar’s public record shows his primary residence as Honolulu. If you had $8 billion, I bet you would have lots of swank properties, a Gulfstream 650, yachts, and other delights of the uber-rich.

So he is not a Hawaiian in the melting pot sense, but an interloper. The $17.5 million reported to be the cost of HDF is such a small percent of his net worth as to diminish into a tiny speck.

The jobs for Kauai spin: A billionaire hires some “experts” which likely includes a project manager with a dairy farm background, which in the case of HDF is a man from New Zealand. Spin doctors talk at length about the wonderful New Zealand “model” for dairy farming. Google it for the scary, unexpected consequences.

Jobs part two: For Kauai residents, the hire is published online at maybe 15 to 20 and maybe in two shifts and, according to a retired farm friend, one imagines low paid jobs like tractor and feed people, manure shoveling, milk techs, maintenance staff, etc. There does not seem to be an upwardly mobile career path for these folks, nor will it have any impact on the island’s unemployment statistics.

Another damning report, this time from the scientific community in multiple countries, which appeared in The Week magazine, Aug. 8, page 17.

Excerpted in part, the scientific community, in long-term studies, reports raising beef requires 28 times more land and 11 times more water than other sources of protein such as chickens, pork, eggs and other dairy products, while generating five times more greenhouse gas emissions, such as methane, compared to other ag products ( U.S. Department of Agriculture, Energy, and the Interior Study from 2000 to 2010).

And finally, the icing on the cake, to use a polite metaphor. Feed lots. Anyone experiencing feed lots in, say, the Midwest, knows for sure when one is driving by these concentration camps, cattle jammed together getting fattened up, stomping around in mud and manure, the smell is horrendous. No wonder the owners of the Grand Hyatt and Poipu Bay Golf Course are suing.

So, as usual, my call for action. Elected and bureaucrat officials need to man up and stop this latest assault on Kauai and our people, both malahini and kama’aina. Your silence speaks volumes, kicking the can down the road.

•••

Tom Rice is a resident of Princeville.

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