Dairy submits final EIS

After nearly two years of evaluation and technical work by experts, Hawaii Dairy Farms has submitted its Final Environmental Impact Statement to the State of Hawaii Department of Health.

“This Final Environmental Impact Statement shows that our model — the state’s first pasture-based dairy — is safe and protective of the environment and Kauai’s special way of life. At the committed herd size of 699 mature dairy cows and any future possible expansion, the FEIS demonstrates that there is no significant impact to resort, commercial, residential or recreational areas,” said Amy Hennessey, spokeswoman for Hawaii Dairy Farms, in a press release.

According to HDF, the FEIS demonstrates many positive impacts of the dairy, including soil quality will be improved; water resources will be appropriately protected; a long-standing agricultural industry will be revitalized, creating jobs; home values and resort areas will not be negatively impacted; archaeological and cultural resources will not be affected; and cows will be treated with a high standard of care.

With the committed herd size of 699 milking cows, Hawaii Dairy Farms will produce roughly 1.5 million gallons of milk per year. All of the milk will be distributed statewide as part of Hawaii Dairy Farms’ commitment to providing fresh, nutritious milk for Hawaii’s families, Hennessey said.

“We prepared the EIS voluntarily to share the detailed planning put into designing a world-class, environmentally sound dairy suitable to Hawaii’s environment,” Hennessey said. “Our commitment to start the farm with no more than 699 mature dairy cows remains steadfast. However, the EIS analysis of the contemplated herd size of up to 2,000 cows will provide essential guidance for any possible future permit application and community outreach to expand the herd.”

In a response to HDF’s press release Wednesday, Friends of Mahaulepu said it was “greatly disappointed.”

“The reason it has taken HDF nearly two years to compile its FEIS is that HDF has had to figure out how to obscure the enormous impacts that are inevitable from a large industrial dairy,” a release from Friends of Mahaulepu said.

According to Friends, the dairy will produce 24 million pounds of manure each year on less than 480 acres of the Maha’ulepu Valley, and much of that, they said, will end up in the Pacific Ocean and affect groundwater, as well.

The group, in its release, said the project will attract flies and release odors that would be harmful for Kauai’s economy and environment.

Friends of Mahulepu said the draft EIS estimated that the proposed dairy would create only four to five full-time jobs on Kauai at most, while the tourism-related jobs that could be affected reaches into the thousands.

“For HDF to proclaim that there will be no negative impacts is as believable as saying Mt. Kilauea will never erupt again,” Friends of Mahaulepu said in their release.

Friends said it is calling on Gov. David Ige and other public officials “to scrutinize the absurd assertions that form the basis for HDF’s conclusions.”

“Any objective scientist knows that this project will have far reaching consequences, ” the Friends’ release said. “The premise for this proposal is fundamentally flawed.”

HDF said the FEIS comprises nine volumes of content and is the result of countless hours of work by expert consultants. Community comments were addressed and incorporated, HDF said.

Because of its size, the document will be available in PDF format for download by volume. Hard copies will be available for review at the Lihue and Koloa public libraries in the coming weeks.

“Submitting the EIS for determination is a significant milestone for Hawaii Dairy Farms, and we are grateful for the thoughtful community feedback we received throughout this process that played a key role in further strengthening the analysis of our project,” Hennessey said.

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