Support our Hawaiian Home Lands Farmers & Ranchers

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The Farm Bill, typically renewed every five years, is currently before Congress. The bill covers a wide range of provisions from crop insurance to conservation programs and nutrition assistance. Hawaiian Home Lands farmers and ranchers have benefited from Farm Bill initiatives like the Farmers Market Promotion Program and the Local Agriculture Market Program which helps with local marketing and fosters community resilience and food security.

What follows are summary highlights of what’s in this new Farm Bill:

  1. Enhanced Conservation Programs – Prioritizes conservation efforts, with increased funding allocated towards programs promoting soil health, water quality, and biodiversity. Provides incentives for farmers to implement sustainable practices, such as cover cropping and rotational grazing, fostering long-term environmental stewardship.
  2. Support for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers – Includes supporting beginning farmers and ranchers with increased access to loans, technical assistance, and educational resources tailored to the unique needs and challenges faced by new entrants into the industry.
  3. Investment in Local and Regional Food Systems – Includes supporting local and regional food systems with funding for farmers markets, food hubs, and value-added processing facilities; and by facilitating market access for small and mid-sized producers while bolstering community food security.
  4. Expansion of Crop Insurance Options – Expands crop insurance options to provide greater flexibility and risk management tools for producers including the development of new insurance products tailored to specialty crops, organic production, and diversified farming operations, ensuring greater resilience in the face of economic and environmental volatility.
  5. Promotion of Organic Agriculture – Includes supporting the expansion of organic agriculture with increased funding for research, technical assistance, and certification cost-share programs, as well as initiatives to facilitate the transition to organic production practices and expand market opportunities for organic farmers.
  6. Incentives for Climate-Smart Agriculture – Supports incentives for climate-smart agriculture practices with funding for programs aimed at increasing carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and enhancing resilience to extreme weather events, empowering farmers to play a proactive role in combating climate change while improving farm profitability.
  7. Equity and Social Justice Initiatives: Attempts to address historical inequities within the agricultural sector by promoting equity and social justice with targeted assistance for historically underserved farmers and ranchers, including women, veterans, and farmers of color, as well as with initiatives addressing land access barriers and supporting agricultural cooperatives and minority-owned businesses.

The entirety of the Farm Bill reflects a commitment to fostering a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable agricultural system that meets the needs of producers, consumers, and the environment alike. In prioritizing conservation, innovation, and inclusivity, the Farm Bill also aims to position our nation’s agriculture for long-term success in the face of evolving challenges and opportunities.

Many, many of our future native Hawaiian Home Lands farmers and ranchers need to get off the waitlist and onto the lands to take advantage of the resources, funding and programs that are coming our way because of the Farm Bill. On behalf of myself and our SCHHA homestead leaders, we call on the State Department of Hawaiian Home Lands to put forward the time, effort and resources necessary to drastically accelerate the awarding of agricultural and pastoral lots to the thousands waiting.