As Hawaii's sugar industry slowly collapsed over the past two decades, each plantation closure was met with mourning — sadness at the loss of jobs, lifestyles and another piece of Island heritage, and uncertainty over the future of the land.
But when HC&S, the very last plantation in Hawaii, announced yesterday that it would be shutting down its Maui fields by the end of this year, there was jubilation and gloating among anti-ag activists. As hundreds of workers faced layoffs, beginning in March, and the fate of 36,000 acres remained uncertain, these activists partied down.
Displaying incredible insensitivity — and a stunning ignorance of land use, agriculture and economics — they took to social media to declare their delight at the demise of the state's largest farm.
Among them were Trinette Furtado. Three generations of her family worked for the plantation, allowing her to attend UH. And then she turned around and kicked HC&S in the teeth, joining a lawsuit to stop cane burning.
2016 is the LAST SUGAR HARVEST!!!!!
HC&S is CLOSING!!!
Exactly what have you won, Trinette, aside from unemployment for local people? What make-believe “dragons” have you slayed? And as Kilauea keeps belching her vog, who ya gonna blame for the respiratory problems you guys attributed solely to cane smoke?
Then there was this tone deaf asshole:
Trish Teeters Why are they so negative? "We are so sad!", they should be excited to look towards a better future.
Tell you what. I'll pull the rug out from underneath you as you stay positive. Because I'm sure you'd be rejoicing, Trish, if you knew you were gonna lose your job — a good job, with union wages and benefits — and you had no idea how you were gonna pay your bills and feed your kids. But never mind, the layoffs are just a PR ploy by HC&S:
Ian Shepherd Teach them to manage other crops. No layoffs. The layoffs are just a bitchy movement to make the other side have a point to complain about.
A mindless Maui State Senate candidate also weighed in:
Terez Amato Lindsey Holy shit!!! I have a bottle of champagne that I am ready to pop!!!!
OMFG!!! I just heard!!! HC&S is ending burning in 2016!!! I am COVERED in chicken skin!!!! This is an OUTSTANDING opportunity for our island!! WHAT AN AMAZING DAY!!!!!
Yup, folks, these are the kinds of people now running for office. And what, exactly, do you imagine this OUTSTANDING opportunity to be, Terez, when you look around at what's happened on the other islands when cane died? Meanwhile, I'm sure the displaced workers agree that it's an AMAZING DAY! Be sure to send them a few bottles of that bubbly.
Oh, but no worries. These ringleaders have the solution:
Karen Chun We need to push for A&B to give them educational/serverance package. With the thirty million dollars they'll save in just one year of stopping cane, they could give each worker $44,000 to live on and go to retraining, if needed.
Sure, Karen, why not? And maybe you could get a job and donate your inheritance to the cause, since you believe it in so strongly.
Bruce Allen Oatway Good news & bad. They could have kept everyone working by switching to hemp... an easy transition and in fact created more jobs at better wages with the benefit of creating even more local businesses that manufacture hemp products and thus converting the lands to organic soil, using little water. Now we'll see... more disgusting cattle? Nothing they can plant there will be edible. Just like the pine fields. Good for nothing, except hemp, for 30 yrs or more... time will tell.
Butch Rick Exactly HEMP leads the way now no weeping for anyone they will have thousands of new jobs if they get smart and grow hemp now d o it
Right. Save your tears because it's such an easy transition — except for one little snafu. Hemp is illegal in Hawaii, you dumb fucks. And god forbid there should be “more disgusting cattle.”
Mark Guagliardo Thought came to mind, will we now a odor problem and global warming methane issue, they say they are stopping the pollution of cane burning, are they going to replace with another polluting profit venture at the expense of our health and enjoyment just for profit?
Tom Crocker This is long over due and amazing. Hope they will not continue to poison the aina one way or another. Cattle poop can really screw up both fresh and salt water, by causing algae blooms, etc.
Hey, let me introduce you to Friends of Mahaulepu. You guys have got a lot in common. Because animal poop is very bad, but your poop, and that produced by 7 million tourists, doesn't cause any problems at all. Unless it's feeding into those injection wells that have created the algal blooms and dead zones off west Maui.
Christi Ash They will try to turn these lands over to Monsanto corn/soy/rice/bananas
Elaine Albertson Uh-huh...not only will they lose a boatload of jobs up front, but it will happen as it did on Kaua'i...the chem co's moved in almost immediately
Actually, Elaine, there was quite a lag before the “chem co's moved in” — long enough that some laid-off plantation workers had burned through their unemployment benefits and were facing home foreclosures. But then, what would you know of such things, since you're entirely subsidized by the taxpayers? And in case you hadn't noticed, even though it's in your own backyard, the "chem co's" are downsizing, not expanding.
Christi Ash Sigh... I hope we are wrong [about GMOs replacing sugar]. The other option is development. Wish we had allies to help create the bread basket after remedies to the land.
Gee, welcome to the real world, girl. Maybe you should have lined up the “allies” — aka, real farmers — “to help create the bread basket” before you and your cohorts began working to dismantle ag in Hawaii. Because if you knew any history, you'd see that the end of ag is typically followed by cattle pastures, overgrown fields of guinea grass populated by feral pigs and cats, and then development, though not of the affordable kind.
Marty Martins I just hope the land doesn't turn into an urban nightmare or a bunch of gated communities for California fat cats.
No, I'm sure A&B is going to turn it into a big public park, or open it up, free of charge, to whomever wants to dabble in hemp and kale.
Kimberly Usher The part where it says what they will do is not easy to read...Be scared of Ag Park...On Big Island all the employees were given 10 acres, and they all began growing GMO papaya...
Yeah, you definitely don't want to give sugar workers any land. Just send 'em off to mow yards or work in the hotels. Because we can't have them exercising free will in what to produce. They must grow what the activists tell them to grow.
Michael Wilmeth Bye bastards
Dave Stein I hope they don't get into GMO's!
Michael Wilmeth I VOTE FOR ORGANIC FARMS
Sure, why not. A vote is all it takes. Not a farm plan, or back-breaking labor, or investment capital, or markets. Just a vote. Or better yet:
Deb Mader Creagh Demand locally grown, organic food. This will create more jobs. #PeopleBeforeProfits
So tell us, Debbie dear, are you planning to get out in the fields? Do you have money to start an organic farm? Or do you, a mainland transplant, imagine this flood of organic food will arise simply because you demand it? And how fortunate that you “work for Aloha Aina” — do you even know what that means? — and thus needn't be worried about such distasteful matters as a job and profits.
Ken Kleid "Time for the farmers to step up and plant food producing trees, and grow grass for cows, goats, sheep, deer, chickens, etc. Maybe start a chicken egg farm, dairy for milk etc, and many tropical crops that can only be grown here. We have the chance to be less dependent on the mainland for our food. What a concept."
Hear that farmers? Step up and start growing food. Now. But not in those horrid ag parks. And don't worry about opposition to your dairy plans, or trying to market your $6.50--a-dozen eggs against cheap mainland imports, or where you're going to bottle your milk or slaughter your livestock. It's all good. AMAZING, in fact.
Nikhilananda Ni ... HC&S/A&B is stopping sugar cane mostly as a "bottom line/financial" decision.... they have been losing money for yearsssssssss.... our tax money, in the form of subsidizing sugar, thanx, in part, to our former "dan" senators, still was not enough to sustain them and NOW is the time to cease operations.... our work begins, as they will want to continue making money from the thousands of acres they still control!....
And we certainly can't have anyone making money off the land. Unless, of course, it's the high-end realtors like SHAKA's Mark Sheehan, who are financing this anti-ag movement.
Paul Gomez The end of BIG Poison is near. Rejoice!
Yup. No poison at all in those termite treatments that happen every time a house is sold, or when the resorts and vacation rentals spray for bugs, or the golf courses green their links or the landscapers kill the weeds. It's only ag that's poisonous and dirty. Why, with the demise of sugar Maui will be downright pristine.
After much gleeful posting, it apparently dawned on darlin' Deb that they were coming off a bit callous:
Deb Mader Creagh Please be mindful of others. Our brothers and sisters, Auntys and Uncles, for whom this news means a job loss, or fear of change, fear of losing something meaningful to them. Use this time to educate, inspire, dream and participate in a brighter, healthier future.
Yeah, let's just dream a little dream. Hell, let's sleepwalk right through our life here in paradise. Because that's the problem with these big landowners. They aren't dreaming big enough. Yeah, yeah, I know they've experimented with just about every crop known to man, trying to find something that's viable.
But if they would've just consulted with the antis, we'd be totally food self-sufficient now, with full employment.
Don't the Big 5 know how easy it is to keep ag land in ag — without cattle or monocrops or pesticides or ag parks or noisy tractors or dust? Why, it's as simple as coming up with a catchy hash tag and racking up a bunch of likes on Facebook.
When I chastised one armchair activist for her insensitivity, she replied:
I don't know what's happened with you. You don't seem to be the same person who did the TVR work, or the same person who came so highly regarded by a couple of progressively minded friends.
What's happened with me? This sickening, clueless, heartless reaction to HC&S's closing by so-called progressives is what's happened with me.
I've seen the environmental and progressive movement in Hawaii co-opted by people who have no compassion, no sense of history, no respect for agriculture, very little understanding of the land use process, crazy ideas about what's feasible in Island ag, no science education, a complete willingness to accept and disseminate propaganda, and a creepy propensity to turn into the kind of “get 'em” mob that's depicted in Rod Serling's “Monsters on Maple Street.”
These people are not progressives, which is why I've been so outspoken in exposing their ugly, ill-conceived movement. It's gaining some political traction in the Islands, while diverting attention and energy from real problems and meaningful solutions, and it needs to be stopped.
The choice is your's folks. Are you going to turn the Islands over to people who party while the last plantation perishes? Are you going to let their smug paid lobbyists, people like Ashley Lukens of Center for Food Safety, determine your future?
Hey Kiddos, Samantha Ruiz and I are gonna be on PBS's insights this THURSDAY at 8pm waxing philosophical about being so young and hip and employed and stuff... I'm also going to probably piss off PBS's core age demographic, so if you were born after 1980 - TUNE IN!
I doubt Ashley, who has been seeking a guru or mentor to help her find balance in her life, will offer any insights, save for those into her own lack of sensitivity, ethics and humility.
And that, like partying as a plantation dies, burning a farmer's tractor, holding a “shame” banner at the Legislature, spraying anti-GM graffiti in public places, or creating distasteful memes of judges whose rulings displease you, is never hip or cool.
Even if a lot of malihinis who have designated themselves "aloha aina warriors " claim that it is.