Hawaii Rep. Richard Onishi from the Big Island has introduced a bill that would give Hawaii’s 2001 Right to Farm Act more teeth.
The law currently protects farmers from nuisance lawsuits, stating: “No court, official, public servant, or public employee shall declare any farming operation a nuisance for any reason if the farming operation has been conducted in a manner consistent with generally accepted agricultural and management practices.”
Onishi’s bill would take the protections a step further and declare that the counties can’t pass laws that limit the rights of farmers and ranchers. Here’s what it says:
The right of farmers and ranchers to engage in modern farming and ranching practices shall be forever guaranteed in this State. No law, ordinance, or resolution of any unit of local government shall be enacted that abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ agricultural technology, modern livestock production, and ranching practices not prohibited by federal or state law, rules, or regulations.
“Like many other states, Hawaii has had to deal with encroaching urbanization and pressure it puts on our farms and agricultural lands,” Onishi said in a press release. “Unlike most states, Hawaii is an island with very limited space for agricultural endeavors. We’ve seen how hard it’s been to protect our ag lands and to keep them productive in the face of other pressing needs and priorities.”
Click here to read the bill text, see its status and submit testimony.
A taro field on the north shore of Kauai (Courtesy of Rodney Ramsey via Flickr)
— Anita Hofschneider