An open letter to Rep. Morikawa opposing the Mahaulepu Dairy Farm

Rep. Morikawa:

I am a businessman on Kauai with both a business and a home in Poipu. My home is located approximately three miles downwind of the proposed dairy farm site (HDF) in Mahaulepu.

It is my understanding that the folks at HDF (Hawaii Dairy Farms) have informed you that our local community stands in support of this industrial dairy operation. I’m here to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth. Just come to one of our community meetings and you’ll see the numbers of people—business owners, shopkeepers, restaurateurs, homeowners, property managers and citizens of all stripe: They’re positively horrified at the prospect of this project going forward.

Let me stress, as so many have tried to before, that the majority of folks I have contact with are not opposed to a responsibly planned dairy farm on Kauai—only HDF’s patently poor choice: to plan such a project (beginning with 600 cows but increasing to 2,000) in a spot which is so important to the area’s natural resources, sacred Hawaiian and archeological sites, vital visitor industry, homes, our drinking wells, our air, our streams and beaches.

A glance at a map of our island reminds you the majority of the population dwells at or near the coastline. Relatively vast expanses of open land are available mauka of where we humans live, work and play. Why in the world put an industrial dairy so close to and upwind (and upland) of such an important and populated area? Unless perhaps the answer is that it serves the purpose and financial interests of a few people who will likely never be vested in this community, nor possibly even set foot in it, except maybe to collect the revenues.

It is disturbing to see the amount of misinformation being put out there, in some cases by HDF’s PR folks, about how little impact their operation will purportedly transmit, emit, deposit—you name it. I’d be willing to wager none of them will be planning to buy homes in my neighborhood! And for that matter, they probably don’t have friends or relatives who work at the Hyatt, or who man the desks, clean the rooms, do landscaping, security, food and beverage and so forth at the Poipu Kai complex and the many other condos and accommodations in this densely populated visitor destination and recreation area.

The amount of manure that will be produced—143 pounds per cow per day (that’s 8.5 million pounds. per month, 103 million pounds per year!) is staggering. To put it into perspective, the Boeing 717-200 aircraft that Hawaiian Airlines uses to bring visitors to Kauai every day has a max takeoff weight for people and cargo combined of 42,000 pounds. The solid waste output alone (not counting urine) will be the equivalent of 2,400 Boeing 717’s—filled from bulkhead to bulkhead —if you took the seats out and used the cargo area below—full of manure….every year, on 578 acres, with no plan to haul any of it away. Studies of other dairy sites have shown this amount of manure will most certainly produce biting flies, stench and toxins within a radius that includes our homes, beaches, drinking wells and major resorts. Personally, I’d rather see those planes packed with visitors.

Ms Morikawa, if you have heard any citizen voices raised in support of this project, it would be a fair assumption to surmise not many of them work or live in Poipu. I’ve seen criticism leveled at those of us who oppose HDF, accusing us of being opposed to agriculture—an unfair characterization and a red herring. Those of us who are business people have the same respect for those who are engaged in the business of agriculture as we would for any other business. But it seems only sensible to grow the ag industry with environmental and economic sense and wisdom, and with respect to and without detriment to Kauai’s existing economic engines. There is no reason this can’t be achieved in the case of HDF.

I would urge you to look into the matter, to reach out to your constituency and talk to those of us who stand to have the quality of our lives and livelihoods so impacted by this project. I would urge you and other leaders to use your best efforts to ensure that the slated EIS is conducted in a fair, impartial and comprehensive manner. And I would urge you to speak with our community’s other elected leaders and to consider who stands to gain and who stands to lose: Where will the milk go? How many jobs are being created (or more accurately, how few)? Where will the money go? And how about all that waste? What’s going to happen to property values, and therefore the huge tax base this area represents? And what about the air we breathe and the water we drink? And then decide if this is a commercial endeavor worthy of your support, or an industrial sized travesty that needs to be stopped, or at the very least, relocated.


Steve Lauryn is a resident of Poipu.


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