Friends of Mahaulepu celebrated Sunday.
They came together at Poipu Beach Park for food, drink, entertainment, dance and to talk story.
And what was the reason for this party called “No Moo Poo in Maha‘ulepu?”
No dairy on Kauai.
FOM was a leader in stopping the dairy, more than five years after it was announced, an announcement that caught many people by surprise who knew nothing of this proposed South Shore dairy by Hawaii Dairy Farms.
HDF, despite its best intentions, was fighting an uphill battle from day one. It never gained strong community support for this project, billed as a way to provide fresh milk for keiki and create a few jobs. The focus of its opposition was always on the threat to the environment this dairy represented and HDF couldn’t get shake that possibility.
It was about six weeks ago that HDF announced it was discontinuing plans for a pasture-based dairy farm on Kauai. Instead, it will explore other alternatives for food production on the Grove Farm land in Mahaulepu on the South Side.
“It is disappointing we were unable to find a path forward to help bring a more sustainable model of dairy farming to Hawaii,” said Amy Hennessey, director of communications for investor Ulupono Initiative in a statement.
She points out the proposal for the farm was based on best-management practices proven around the world “to create a more environmentally sustainable model of dairy farm that utilized active pasture management to minimize runoff and use grass as a low-cost source of feed.”
That message, however, failed to gain traction.
And for that, FOM must get credit. It led local opposition to the dairy. It took legal action. It pointed to the environmental problems on the Big Island with Big Island Dairy. It fought the good fight, and won.
Bridge Hammerquist, FOM president, deserves credit, too.
She said that HDF made its decision, “only because there were a lot of very concerned citizens who devoted hundreds of hours and their hard-earned money to expose the likely and very serious consequences of HDF’s proposed industrial, pasture-based dairy (699 to 2,000 cows) on just 469 acres of Mahaulepu Valley.”
FOM, a large community group, worked hard to help public officials appreciate the risks of harm for all if their industrial dairy was allowed to operate, particularly the runoff from waste created by hundreds of cows.
While projects that create jobs and help Kauai become less dependent on shipping are welcome, this dairy missed the mark and the negatives outweighed the positives. The dairy, to the relief of many, will not happen and all existing farm assets are being auctioned.
But HDF is not gone. It is working with landowner Grove Farm and other third parties to explore alternative proposals for food production in Mahaulepu. We hope that’s something we can all enthusiastically support. We’ll have to wait and see what is proposed next.
Until then, Hammerquist and friends can take pride in a hard-fought victory and we thank them for their tenacity. This wasn’t about money for FOM. It was about protecting this island they call home. FOM’s dedication and perseverance turned the tide in this battle and we know that like HDF, they are not going away. And that’s a good thing.