Malama Maha‘ulepu says ‘no’ to dairy proposal

LIHUE — Malama Maha‘ulepu has announced its formal opposition to Hawaii Dairy Farms’ proposed dairy operation on 578 acres in Maha‘ulepu Valley.

The nonprofit organization says its decision comes after “months of careful scrutiny, research and deliberation.”

“We have concluded that above all else, the carrying capacity of the land cannot support an operation of HDF’s size,” the group wrote in a release. “Indeed, it remains to be proven that the land can or should support a dairy of any size. This industrialized dairy is not compatible, sustainable nor appropriate agriculture use for Maha‘ulepu. HDF’s proposed dairy poses serious environmental risks and health hazards which threaten Maha‘ulepu’s beautiful and ecologically unique, and culturally significant, coastline.

MM plans to begin circulating a petition which reads: “Until and unless an (Environmental Assessment) ensures that any proposed dairy operates within the carrying capacity of Maha‘ulepu Valley, we oppose the industrial dairy operation as it is not compatible, sustainable nor appropriate ag use for Maha‘ulepu Valley.”

The nonprofit will launch its effort during a public gathering from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Poipu Beach Park. 

Amy Hennessey, a spokeswoman for HDF, said the company is “deeply disappointed” that MM decided to oppose the plan prior to the conclusion of the regulatory review process. 

“It is especially troubling that Malama Maha‘ulepu is asking for an Environmental Assessment (EA) that is not required for a small farm of up to 699 cows on private lands,” Hennessey wrote in a statement. “The precedent of conducting an EA opens the door to burdening all small animal operations in the state that wish to start or grow their farms with a costly process that is not required.”

Hennessey added that HDF has worked hard to keep an open dialogue with MM.

“It is unfortunate that they are relying on flawed analyses of our draft plan by outsiders who are unfamiliar with grass-fed dairying and rotational grazing,” she wrote. 

Chris D’Angelo, environment writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cdangelo@thegardenisland.com.

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