Letters for Monday, Oct. 7, 2013

Won’t be easy to enforce 2491Kauai visit a disappointing one

Won’t be easy to enforce 2491

One argument against Bill 2491 is the lack of faith in the county’s ability to enforce the regulations in this legislation. The cost of implementing a system for enforcement is also tied to this argument. The hearings on 2491 have revealed the dismal track record of the DOA in enforcement. Even with hiring more inspectors, how can the state work in cooperation with the county to fulfill the requirements of 2491?  

As a certified organic farmer, an independent organic inspector and former member and chair of the Certification Committee for Hawaii Organic Farmers’ Association, my experience is that regulating only five companies is not a gargantuan feat.  

Enforcing 2491 should not require creating a county sub-agency with eight new positions at an annual cost of $800,000. A more stream-lined approach could involve contracting this work to professionals who are familiar with proper regulation, inspection, and enforcement.

There are a number of well-trained, professional, independent inspectors in Hawaii who annually inspect the 150 or so certified organic operations in the state.  These individuals are trained by USDA-sanctioned programs and must attend annual education sessions that cover any changes in the law regarding buffer zones, disclosure, good agricultural practices, residue testing, conservation plans, etc. They know how to read labels, examine records, perform field measurements, conduct audit trails, collect samples for lab analysis and recognize potential violations.

Independent entities under contract to the county would not be paid until their job of inspection and verification of compliance to the law was completed. Payment based on performance is, unfortunately, not the way that government tends to operate.  

Financing 2491 should fall back on the companies that are to be regulated. With annual permitting, these companies would submit system plans, maps, conservation plans, product information and field history. Annual permitting fees should cover the costs of regulating 2491. As described in the bill, violations would result in monetary penalties.

Organic operations pay fees to use the lofty title, “Organic.” It is a cost of doing business. Different certifying agencies use different fee schedules. Some are based on acreage; others are based on a flat fee plus a percentage of gross sales. Applying a comparable fee schedule should be examined by the county as a “pay to play” approach in implementing 2491.

Louisa Wooton

Kilauea

Kauai visit a disappointing one

A note to the Kauai business community and her citizens:

We, my family and I, recently returned home from a 15-day vacation to your beautiful island. This was not our first visit to Kauai. We have come to love your home and the moral ethics of her people, sharing your bounty, caring for one another, etc.

On Wednesday, Sept. 11, that belief was seriously tested.

That evening we attended the Kauai Chamber of Commerce event at The Smith’s Family. How we got there is another story. We were sold tickets believing we were attending the Smith’s Luau, which we’ve been to before and enjoyed. After eating dinner and some entertainment, the speakers began and we realized this wasn’t what we had thought or attended before. Being that it was an event designed for Kauai businesses, not the visitor, we left.

In our haste to leave without causing too much disturbance, we left our rented camera (rented from Boss Frog’s) on the table. To be honest, I wasn’t really worried about finding it due to the fact that, 1) we were in Kauai and 2) we were at a business function, along with Kauai’s most honorable, surely someone picked it up and turned it into lost and found.

After several calls to Smith’s, the Chamber of Commerce, Boss Frog’s, the local radio station and a visit to Smith’s, we came up empty. Needless to say our remaining days were tainted. Our valuable vacation time was spent making calls and searching for the camera and our treasured memories it held within.

At this point, I would additionally like to stress to your community, what the cost to your community was.

Our cost ended up relatively minimal, our lost pictures and lost trust being the ultimate losses. However, I paid $60 for the week rental that I didn’t get any benefit from and Boss Frog’s charged me 50 percent of the cost of the camera, $125. So we’re out $185.

Your financial losses were greater. Having the camera stolen, not knowing what our expense would end up being, our spending, as well as our fun, was significantly altered. My plan for Thursday, Sept. 12 was to go golfing. As I’m sure you’re aware, golfing on your island is not cheap. I could not justify spending money to go golfing knowing I had an unplanned expenditure at the end of our vacation.

We (three of us) had also planned on going on a turtle snorkel trip out of Poipu at the cost of $100 a person. Those two events alone approach $500.

Add to that us closely watching our budget, eating at the condo instead of out, reduced shopping at your local merchants, and the cost to your community easily reached well over $1,000 for a camera that cost less than $250. Not a good return on investment. We are very disappointed in this experience knowing it is not the Kauai way.  

As our trip came to an end we found ourselves at Tunnels pulling the Colorado Springs visitor from the waters there, where he died. Although this is nothing that you can control, the combination of events has impacted significantly our Kauai trip, still impacting us weeks after returning to our home in Washington State.

It is our hope that you will share our letter.

Don Stone

Washington state

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