Office of Planning and HDOA Report on Food Security/Self-Sufficiency – 3 Volumes

The Hawaii State Office of Planning, Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture (under an award from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration) released a three-part report titled Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy in October 2012: Volume I: Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy; Volume II: Increased Food Security and Food Self‐Sufficiency Strategy: A History of Agriculture in Hawaii and Technical Reference Document; Volume III: Increased Food Security and Food Self‐Sufficiency Strategy: Assessment of Irrigation Systems in Hawaii.

HDOA Report

The following excerpts, from Andrew Gomes’s “State Pursues Investments in Food Production” (Star-Advertiser, Oct 25, 2012), provides a brief introduction. Green highlights were added. For the complete article, click here.

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Subtitle: A new report identifies difficulties and solutions for boosting isle food supplies  

Eat local. Grow local.

If local consumers bought more fresh food from local farmers, and local farmers grew more food to supply the increased demand, it would help improve food security and self-sufficiency in Hawaii where close to 85 percent of food is imported . But the eat local/grow local concept is tough to put into practice because demand is hard to increase without supply, and supply is hard to increase without demand.

Hence, food self-sufficiency in Hawaii has suffered, and the state’s reliance on so much imported food makes it vulnerable to events such as natural disasters that could disrupt shipping and food supplies.

To help advance the cause, the administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie recommends investing more than $13 million over the next two fiscal years to execute a state Office of Planning strategic plan for expanding local food production.

The 47-page report released Wednesday and produced with assistance from the state Department of Agriculture and funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce identifies difficulties and solutions for increasing Hawaii’s local food supply.

The report said Hawaii consumers spent $3.7 billion on food in the 2004-05 fiscal year. Based on the report’s estimate that about 85 percent of that food was imported, it means $3.1 billion was exported.

Adding 10 percent more local food production and consumption would keep $313 million in the local economy. Not all of that money would go to farmers, but assuming 30 percent of it did, the report said the benefit would be $188 million in additional spending spread around to places like retailers, as well as $6 million in state tax revenues and 2,300 jobs.

Two key pieces of the strategy are increasing demand and supply for locally grown foods.

On the demand side, the report said more needs to be done marketing the Agriculture Department’s “Buy Local, It Matters” campaign, and to identify more locally produced foods in branding and labeling.

“Marketing is critical to increasing the demand for and consumption of Hawaii’s locally produced agricultural commodities and products,” the report said.

The existing “Buy Local, It Matters” campaign is financially supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and includes distribution of marketing materials from bags to bumper stickers.

The report recommends a state general fund contribution of $500,000 in each of the next two fiscal years to expand the marketing effort with more promotional materials along with other endeavors such as in-store promotions.

One area with potential to create a huge, stable increase for local food is the public school system.

But the report said a farm-to-school program is problematic because all 256 Hawaii schools would need to be equitably supplied — creating more demand than could be met. Meeting food safety certifications required under a federally funded fresh fruit and vegetable program also inhibits supplying local schools.

So the report recommends spending $70,000 next fiscal year and $100,000 the year after that to establish a pilot program for charter schools. To help increase food safety coaching and certification, the report recommends spending about $740,000 in each of the next two fiscal years.

On the supply side, the report recommends that more state agricultural parks be developed to provide farmers with land and water at affordable prices. No development costs were specified. The report also recom­mended state irrigation systems be repaired and maintained at an unspecified cost.

For instance, in 2009 all staffing was cut for the Agriculture Department’s branch doing market analysis work, including collecting data on crop imports, exports and prices that helped farmers assess market risks. Restoring market analysis would help farmers and allow the state to track food self-sufficiency, according to the report, which recommends spending about $580,000 in each of the next two fiscal years on the initiative.

The strategic plan, released Wednesday, is the first part of a three-part report. The second part is a history of agriculture in Hawaii. The third part, which is being prepared, is an assessment of irrigation systems statewide.

 

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