During an interview the other day on Hawaii Public Radio's “The Conversation,” host Beth-Ann Kozlovich asked me why the two big ag land sales at Princeville and Pilaa had gone virtually unnoticed.
My reply: Because Kauai environmentalists have stopped fighting development and instead are fixated on fighting agriculture.
That phenomenon is perfectly underscored by Malama Mahaulepu's formal opposition to not just Hawaii Dairy Farms, but a dairy of any size. What's more, it has bizarrely hopped into bed with the Hyatt — the very same resort that MM originally opposed because it opened the door to development along the Mahaulepu coast — by supporting its lawsuit against HDF.
Because opposition has greatly delayed the dairy, HDF has had to sell the cows it shipped from New Zealand to the mainland in anticipation of building a herd on Kauai. Yes, HDF can and will buy more — but only because it's funded by billionaire Pierre Omidyar. Any other dairy farmer would already have been driven out of business.
So even as Malama Mahauelpu characterizes HDF as an “industrial dairy,” it and the other so-called “environmentalists” who want to dictate how ag is practiced on ag land seem oblivious to this irony: their actions are effectively serving to make Kauai agriculture financially untenable for all but billionaires and corporations.
Ironically, though corporate agriculture is now anathema, corporate-sponsored activism is all good — if you're mayoral candidate and fighter Dustin Barca, who proudly announced on Instagram that he's sold himself to clothing company RVCA.
Yes, in the Orwellian world of Dustin's campaign a polarizer can pass himself off as a “true ambassador of the balance of opposites” — since that's his owner's marketing slogan.
Speaking of marketing, this ad is an indication of what's to come when the pro-development, anti-ag crowd holds sway: Fake farms, with your own serfs to work the fields, just upslope from Kaanapali resort.
As the marketing blurb gushes:
For the Lot Owner, it's a delightful way to experience both the soul of farming and the science of coffee cultivation at one's leisure, without the distractions [sweat or dirty fingernails] of daily farm management.
Why, it's the perfect colonial model! Can't you just see these popping up all over the westside once the seed companies are driven out?
It brings to mind the Hyatt's desire to stage a farmer's market at the resort to help repair its anti-ag image — just so long as those dirty veggies aren't grown anywhere near the "clean and green" hotel.
Returning to Malama Mahaulepu, its executive director is Greg Stevens, a land use attorney from Vermont. Though he's been on Kauai just a year, he's already an expert on the island's culture, environment and agricultural history. You'll also be happy to know he's eager to leave a “lasting legacy.” Of luxury second homes and gentleman's estates, perhaps?
The group's secretary is Jeri DiPietro, an officer of GMO-Free Kauai and Hawaii SEED, a major funder and driver of the movement to pass the GMO/pesticide regulatory Bill 2491.
Though Jeri has been slack in keeping Hawaii SEED's tax returns up to date, she did finally file for 2012. The return shows contributions and grants of $181,754 that year, down slightly from the $220,327 that it took in during 2011 and a dramatic surge up from the $266 in income reported for 2010. It reported expenditures of $253,668 for 2012, ending the year with $94,801 in the bank.
Its officers include Jeri, Mary Lacques, Mi-Key Boudreau and Walter Ritte, none of whom claimed any compensation. Though Jeri and Walter engaged in extensive lobbying efforts throughout the state, the group has failed to register as a lobbyist. Instead, it clings to the fiction that it's a tax-exempt nonprofit. Its stated mission is “to inform and educate the public on food security, genetic engineering and health,” by which it apparently means its concerted campaign to frighten westsiders about pesticides after its pesticide drift-monitoring activities failed to yield any results.
So where did Hawaii SEED spend all that money? Not on helping any of the worried Westsiders it purports to support. No, it spent $54,362 on its “Facing Future” manifesto, nearly $11,000 on travel and hotels and $5,429 on internet. It also diverted $17,403 back to itself via GMO-Free Kauai.
At the very bottom of the return, more information is revealed: Pesticide education, $34,564 and the aforementioned failed pesticide testing, $19,219. This is in addition to the $9,414 spent on pesticide education and $17,317 on pesticide testing in 2011. In other words, Hawaii SEED spent $36,536 on pesticide testing in 2011 and 2112 — but found nothing wayward to report.
The 2012 return also includes expenditures of $109,567 for the cryptically labeled “VS tour.” Yup, they shelled out $109,567 for Vandana Shiva's January 2013 statewide tour, which torched the anti-GMO frenzy on Kauai and catapulted Councilmen Gary Hooser and Tim Bynum to delusions of grandeur.
And we're supposed to believe this is a locally-based grassroots movement just a-tryin' to help them poor westsiders shake off their corporate oppressors?
Gee, think of how many blood tests they could've funded to help westsiders prove they're actually being poisoned by pesticides. Unless, perhaps, they aren't.
Though Hawaii SEED doesn't report the source of its income, I previously reported that its funding comes not from individual contributions, but the Ceres Trust, which in 2012 awarded Hawaii SEED $228,550 for a pesticide drift project.
Curious, how Hawaii SEED is claiming just $181,754 in income for 2012, when the Ceres Trust is reporting it gave the group $228,550.
But we'll leave that to the IRS.
And I'll leave you with this: When agriculture disappears in Hawaii, development invariably takes its place. So be careful what you wish and work for. Unless that's what you really want.
Many thanks for the very kind comments left on yesterday's anniversary post!