It would be wonderful if farmers could stand in their fields, wave their arms and weeds, insects and plant diseases would magically disappear. It is too bad this cannot happen.
Instead, to banish pests and disease, farmers rely on sound scientific practices. They use pesticides and seeds resistant to insects and diseases. Their crops thrive and people all over enjoy a bounty of healthful fruits and vegetables and beautiful flowers.
Farmers use pesticides with great care and regard for themselves, their families, the people who work in their fields and their neighboring communities. Authorities in the state of Hawaii and the U.S. government monitor farmers and all of the work that goes into pesticide development and application.
With its Bill 2491, the Kauai County Council seeks to insert itself into regulating pesticides and GMO crops — the exact same things our state and federal governments are already doing. It would take years and untold millions of dollars for our county to develop the same expertise and professional staffing to do what Hawaii and the federal government are already doing.
The bill will impose many of these costs on the commercial seed growers in Kauai. Faced with these new costs, the growers will probably close down their farms, layoff their workers and leave Kauai.
It has been stated by Mr. Gary Hooser the introducer of the Bill 2491 that it will not affect the small farmers here on Kauai.
On the contrary, if the seed companies are forced out of business, the chemical supply companies here on Kauai (Crop Production Services and C. Brewer Chemical Co.) will be forced to go out of business. This scenario will be devastating to the farmers on Kauai. We presently purchase chemicals, soil amendments, irrigation supplies as well as organic materials from them!
This will have a major impact on my business Tropical Flowers Express. Please consider the impact on the Kauai farmers.
I do know that as the former farm manager for the Kauai Ag Research Center operated by the University of Hawaii, College of Tropical Agriculture, this bill would devastate our work.
I am also the president of the Hawaii Tropical Flowers and Foliage Association on Kauai and a director for Kauai on the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association our statewide umbrella organization.
The Floriculture industry is a vanity industry where the newest and unique catches the attention of the market. This means for our industry to remain competitive we need to have new and cutting-edge flowers and foliage in new colors and styles. An important tool for this is to be able to get new varieties, longer lasting varieties, and healthier varieties through the use of science, technology and innovation, such as GMO.
We believe it is important to look to the future of our agricultural industry and not handicap ourselves with laws that seek to close the door on technology.
Please, County Council members, before you vote on this bill consider the damage it can do to agriculture on Kauai — the jobs it can destroy and the businesses and communities that will suffer. Please think wisely and vote “No” on Bill 2491.
• Johnny Gordines is a Kapaa resident and owner of Tropical Flowers Express.