County seeks public comments on proposed rules for sunshine markets

Public forums this  month will allow comments on proposed administrative rules for the island’s sunshine markets that will promote locally grown food.

“We’re very excited about providing Kaua‘i farmers with the opportunity to sell value-added products made from their fresh produce, locally produced honey or live farm-raised fish,” George Costa, director of the Kaua‘i County Office of Economic Development, said in a county news release.

“The revised rules will help to guide the expanded sunshine market program,” he said about the island’s farmers markets.

All public forums are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. The first public forum is Tuesday at the Kilauea Neighborhood Center.

Meetings are scheduled at the Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center on Thursday, the Koloa Neighborhood Center on March 13, the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center on March 14, the Hanapepe Neighborhood Center on March 15, the Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center on March 20 and the Kekaha Neighborhood Center on March 21.

An island-wide public hearing on the draft rules is scheduled at 5 p.m. March 28 in meeting rooms A and B at the Lihu‘e Civic Center.

A copy of the proposed rules is posted online at www.kauai.gov/Kamaaina/SunshineMarkets/tabid/214/Default.aspx. Copies also are available at the Office of Economic Development at the Lihu‘e Civic Center.

The draft rules define value-added products as products made of 50 percent raw agricultural commodities, ingredients grown on the vendor’s premises or those certified as “Kaua‘i Grown” products.

The proposed rules will also address a growing concern over vendors purchasing produce from retail or wholesale establishments, then re-selling it at the sunshine markets.

“It is unfair for local farmers to labor in their fields, take time off to bring their produce to market, only to have non-farmers take away their limited opportunities,” Costa said.

To request special accommodations, sign language interpreters, or interpreters for non-English speakers, or for more information, call the Office of Economic Development at 241-4946, or email gcosta@kauai.gov five days prior to the meeting date.

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