LIHU‘E — The American AgCredit pledge of $2 million over a five-year period is good for Hawai‘i as a state, said Eric Hanson, the GoFarm Hawai‘i Kaua‘i program coordinator.
The donation which is the combined contributions of the American AgCredit and CoBank, both members of the nationwide Farm Credit System, was announced at the start of February to support GoFarm Hawai‘i that has been described as one of the largest and most successful beginning farmer development programs in the nation.
“GoFarm Hawai‘i does not get any direct benefit from this,” Hanson said. “This is an investment in food production and a strong belief in Hawai‘i agriculture. At GoFarm Hawai‘i, we teach people to become agricultural entrepreneurs, not just growers.”
The College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa provides business technical assistance, educational opportunities, and access to a suite of resources designed to remove barriers to farming and agribusiness, states the announcement. GoFarm Hawai‘i operates five beginning farmer training sites across four islands and an agricultural technician training program at the Waiawa Correctional Facility.
“Food sustainability and economic diversification are key post-pandemic priorities for our state,” said UH President David Lassner. “Many of the GoFarm Hawai‘i program’s alumni have started independent businesses or secured jobs in the agricultural industry. This strategic philanthropic investment from AAC provides a major boost to our state’s next generation of farmers and our agricultural community statewide.”
The Hawai‘i 2050 Sustainability Plan has a goal of doubling local food production by 2030.
“Hawai‘i imports about 85 to 90% of its food, making it particularly vulnerable to disruptions in food supply,” said CTAHR Dean Nicholas Comerford. “Our GoFarm Hawai‘i program addresses this by providing farmers with the tools they need to be successful, and expanding our local food supply — a necessity for our entire community.”
AAC President and CEO Curt Hudnutt said American AgCredit’s mission to support all segments of agriculture is closely aligned to that of GoFarm Hawai‘i.
“We are thrilled to be able to support the great work GoFarm Hawai‘i has been doing for nearly 20 years,” Hudnutt said. “This commitment is just a perfect fit for us.”
The GoFarm Hawai‘i program is financially supported by competitive grants and private donations, including support from Kamehameha Schools, the Ulupono Initiative, USDA, NIFA, and the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture.
“We are extremely grateful for American AgCredit and CoBank’s support of our practical training program built around the real-world needs of tomorrow’s farmers,” said GoFarm Hawai‘i director Janel Yamamoto. “With their support and the support of other key partners, we can help experienced farmers looking to expand and needing assistance to develop a business plan or proposal, as well as people new to agriculture wanting to learn the basics of farming.”
Additional GoFarm Hawai‘i supporters and collaborators include the Kaua‘i Community College, the UH Maui College, Corteva Agriscience, CTAHR Cooperative Extension, HI!Ag Consortium, UH Sea Granat, The Kohala Center, Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, Hawai‘i Department of Public Safety, City and County of Honolulu, County of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i County Office of Economic Development, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, O‘ahu Resource Conservation &Development Council, the North Shore Economic Vitality Partnership, Farm Link Hawai‘i, Agricultural Leadership Foundation of Hawai‘i, Ho‘ola Veteran Services, Sustainable Moloka‘i, and the Hawai‘i Agritourism Association.