While I support the voter initiative process, I can't help but feel it was never intended to advance proposals like the Community Organic Farmlands Initiative.
Still, as one friend observed when discussing the motivations of many in the anti-GMO crowd, it's all about establishing a new world order. We're talking one that is anti-corporate, anti-free trade, anti-global and anti-capitalism, sprinkled liberally with utopianism.
Which leads us to the verbiage — excessive and revisionist as it is — driving this proposed Maui County initiative.
Stuff like this:
As the “Big Five” companies and their successors abandoned agriculture in Maui County over the last thirty years for more profitable ventures, it has become clear that their “land management” practices are not developed for the public good, nor for the long term health, stability and food-security of the community. This clarity is evidenced in the refusal of such landowners to sell their lands to entities working in the public interest. Further evidence consists in their practice of selling to land speculators who then manipulate land use laws to develop luxury “gentlemen estate” farms or highly-priced residential and hotel developments that do not grow food or other sustainable agricultural products. The pervasiveness of such practices has resulted in a serious shortage of agricultural land available for food farming in Maui County. As a consequence of Maui County’s lack of food-production, over 90% of food consumed in Maui County is imported from out of state.
Gee, if they keep talking like that, they're going to lose all their backers who are living on and/or selling those gentleman estates and high-priced residential developments.
But seriously, where did they ever get the idea that there is a “serious shortage of agricultural land available for food farming in Maui County” or anywhere else in Hawaii? The Islands are awash in unused ag land, both public and private. All that's needed are competent, willing farmers, with some financial backing.
The initiative language then morphs into the “we know best” smug rhetoric that really grates, especially on those who have been busting their asses to keep ag alive in Hawaii all these years:
To accomplish the public purpose of wisely conserving, preserving, using and managing agricultural lands in Maui County requires changing present patterns of agricultural land ownership. Changing present patterns of such landownership in Maui County by allowing the County to buy or condemn agricultural land at the request of residents or potential farmer-lessees will help to satisfy the pressing public necessity for a secure, strong and stable agricultural sector and overall economy.
It then calls on Maui County to use eminent domain to snag privately owned land, upon petition by citizens or “landless farmers,” that will then be turned into ag parks. We're talking any land classified as “interim, agricultural, rural, conservation or open space.” The acquisition and parceling out will be administered by the Farm Commons Committee.
And enforced by the Brown Shirt Brigade.
The initiative calls upon the county to pay the owner fair market value, but makes no mention of where the county is supposed to obtain the dough to finance this massive acquisition process. But why bother with such petty details when you're plotting a grand agricultural renaissance?
In exchange for a 50-year lease, the lessee does have certain responsibilities, such as:
[Keep] premises and improvements thereon in a strictly clean, sanitary and orderly condition; not engage in any activity which may result in soil erosion; or [engage in] any improper or offensive use; utilize best management practices as [sic] all times.
And allow the Committee to come in and check on you and your operations at any time.
I do not anticipate that this will be well-received. Well, except by the starry-eyed with no stake in the current system.
But hey, Viva la revolucion! If you missed it 100 years ago, no worries. It's coming soon, to a ballot near you.