Thursday, January 7, 2016

Musings: Sugar Blues

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.

Trinette posted:

2016 is the LAST SUGAR HARVEST!!!!!

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!‬

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.


  1. Whoa! Love this post. You should leave it up for awhile; no doubt you will get a bunch of comments.

    By the way... I love people who love to spend other peoples' money or tell them how to run their business.

    Reality is: if the sugar business on Maui was very profitable, it would still be running. See also Kauai etc.

    To bad, that land will most likely be re-purposed for housing, commercial property and tourism after its AG designation/use makes little to no money/taxes.

    "It's all about money, not freedom. You think your free? Try going somewhere without money" Bill Hicks.

    By the way: love the anger and frustration in your voice on this one Joan.

  2. I'm am disgusted by their comments and lack of empathy for the employees and their families. This is not how we were raised, it show's a lack of understanding of the word "Aloha" and the Hawaiian culture. You nailed it again Joan, Mahalo

  3. One thing’s for damn sure, A&B aint ADC. They're a public company with shareholders to satisfy and they're not going to let 36,000 acres lie fallow. If they don’t get farmers or someone in there paying rent theyre going to develop it. Quickly.

  4. The lack of understanding of agriculture and business, along with pitiful lack of empathy reflected in these comments is appalling. There is no evidence that smoke from cane burning has caused significant health problems on Maui, while it is well documented that loss of income and well being as a result of unemployment can cause health and other problems that will ripple through families and the community.

    Where are several hundred jobs with benefits on Maui going to come from for the displaced workers?

    Those rejoicing in the end of sugar production might have more concern for the land than the people affected. They should keep in mind what the former Pioneer sugar land in west Maui now looks like. And it is on the leeward side; the HG&S land is in a fairly windy area, and dirt and dust from fallow fields could easily replace the occasional smoke and ash from sugarcane production.

  5. The islands have been in transition for awhile now, Kauai has been slowly transitioning, because it would cause to much anger from local people if it happened quicker. All the old sugar lands in Kapaa, Kilauea, Lihue have been sitting vacant, bought up by people with lots of money, enough to hold the land until the right time for development. There was no transition to organic crops or crops at all, just in holding. There was no effort to turn the lands into homes and small agriculture for local people, just holding...until it can be developed at a huge profit. There is no celebration, it is just that the steeple are woefully ignorant and think it will stay undeveloped and open space forever. Trust me, these mega millionaires who bought these lands are not turning them over to the public, they are private holdings, getting easy tax breaks until the right time to market these former agriculture lands for big bucks.

  6. Some pertinent facts. Sugarcane is one of the most efficient crop to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (cause of greenhouse effect and higher global temperatures). If one was smart enough to know the chemical makeup of sucrose, it contains carbon and oxygen atoms from the atmosphere fixed within the cane stalks and releases oxygen gases through a process called photosynthesis. In the process of manufacturing raw sugar, bagasse (renewal biomass) is burned to provide energy to the power grid. HC&S had a firm contract to provide Maui Electric with power. Talk about bringing in sorghum and banagrass for use as biofuels could create problems similar to what has happened with guineagrass brought in by the cattle industry. As in the case of raw sugar prices, with the exception of a few spikes, it has remained at about $0.20/lb. for the last fifty years. There are no sugar subsidies - all producers contribute to a fund which establishes a base price.

  7. 9:18 is right on. Thank you. Now we will see how the sulfur will burn our lungs out with the sugarcane gone. Studies were made. The burning is insignificant to what the sugarcane did for oxygen. 2 years of oxygen vs couple days of burning. Go, go, gmo.

  8. Joan, is Ashley really scheduled for Insights tonight?

  9. I started to write a long, angry rant about entitled, ignorant pieces of shit like those you mentioned in your post, but instead I'll just return their sentiment of Aloha. To them I say Aloha...Aloha HARD.

  10. It's so simple. Just find young, hip unemployed folks to organically farm those cane lands. I saw hundreds of them on TV when I watched the 2491 hearings. And what's so hard about changing the law to legalize marijuana? Negative thoughts will not get the community to a higher spiritual plane.

  11. "Just find young, hip unemployed folks to organically farm those cane lands. I saw hundreds of them on TV when I watched the 2491 hearings." LOL! Ive seen these people in action. Big plans. No pesticides. All organic. But once the reality kicks in, it gets gruesome. No herbicides means manual weeding of fields. Do you know how hard that is? Hou Hana. It takes crews to do on any scale and if you keep the farms small, that is the farmers job. How many young people want to weed every day? Oh, and hemp. Hemp is used for fiber. Fiber is used to make ropes and fabrics (and some other things). Where are the Hawaii textile mills and rope factories? You would have to export raw hemp. The dollar return is less than cotton per acre. Even if you maxed out accordeing to hemp advocates, the net return is $2-400/acre. On land that is worth several thousand or more per acre. Not a sound plan.

    1. I was kidding.

    2. I'm glad. Point being, how is export of a raw fiber going to support decent jobs? That is a 3rd world model. Not something we need to aspire to. The fact that you could have been serious is disturbing.

    3. Point being:"I was kidding" as in, "Seriously, I was kidding".

  12. Some of these peoples comments are so ignorant of kills me Money greed and lack of respect of others is what t
    hey believe in they have NO Aloha they dont know what Aloha is all about...they got to remember EVERYTHING has a domino effect...Karma will bite them who is rejoicing....I have lived long enough to see several plantations close and I hurt every time because I was raised right smack dab in the middle of cane fields I pray all those people losing their jobs will find something to sustain them...this is a very sad time for our state....

  13. The Federal Government legalizes marijuana. Not the State.


  14. Here is the vision of the future:

    "Chairman of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, Scott Enright sees the close as a chance to move forward with the state's renewable energy initiative using wind farms.

    "HC&S produces 10 percent of the electricity on Maui County currently," Enright said. "But the wind energy providers over there have been constrained by a contract for that 10 percent. So I believe that wind energy will be able to pick up most of that as we transition from gas to wind energy."

    Enright also says 28 thousand acres of the H-C and S plantation land is under state protection so that it cannot be developed.

    Eventually, the other 8 thousand acres could, but that would require rezoning and other approvals that could take decades.

    A&B began 145 years ago with the planting of sugar cane on 570 acres in Makawao, Maui.

    The new diversified model, which A&B says will take years to fully implement, involves dividing the Maui plantation into smaller farms with a variety of uses including energy crops, food crops, support for the local cattle industry and developing an agriculture park."

    1. The energy comments aren't really accurate. Hc&s'current contract only has them providing energy as requested during certain times of year. Also their energy is firm as in it can be counted on. Wind is only there when it's windy so it doesn't replace what hc&s delivered.

  15. I can't for the life of me understand why anyone listens to the Ashley Lukens of the world. On any subject.

    What the heck do they know about farming?

    No one wants to hear it but Agriculture IS DEAD in Hawaii if A&B can't make it profitable, lifelong farmer Richard Ha can't continue the battle against disease and costs, and no one is listening to real commercial farmers who know what they're talking about, to see why they're giving up farming here.

    Hawaii is certainly changing, but not for the better.

  16. To the first 11:56 poster, regarding DOA Scott Enright's statement, along with those of the Governor...."a golden opportunity for the state to focus on renewable energy and food security"....

    Good spin---the administration sure doesn't want to look bad for not having supported agriculture.

    With tens (hundreds?) of thousands of acres of ag land already available throughout the state, if it's so easy, why hasn't it already happened?

    Always nice to delude ourselves about the future.

  17. One cannot eat renewable energy.

  18. They are not doing chemical research here. They are seed companies.

    1. Did you ever read about GMO companies also owning Big Pharmaceuticals?

      There's tests and data being kept and you can bet on that.

  19. GMO+Pharmaceuticals=Pharming

    Any questions?

  20. Would it be possible that the people of HC&S were waiting for something like this protesting to happen so they could have a legitimate reason to close down "Sugar" because they were losing big bucks. They brought down the chun lady to start filing the law suits. This way they don't look like bad people to just close down.


  21. Sam Small: Sore losers?

    Gabriel Collazo: Exactly. In any contest the losers will inevitably hate on the winners. Most people will lose a job in their lifetime. Not every community will win their health back from those who poisoned them. Righteousness wins.

    Nick Kihei: I'm sure everyone laid off will be able to collect unemployment benefits... Just sayin

    Jessica Brown Qunell: time to be excited about the new jobs that can come from this. Cleaner healthier jobs.

    Elaine Molina: When one door closes, another one opens. It's true!

    Chris Profio: Exactly.

    Karen Chun: Now to call out the bullshit: "Perez added that A&B's proposed agricultural park "sounds like a good idea," but former employees will need training in how to run their own farm businesses."

    Really? I worked in ag when I was a teenager and my training consisted of them giving me a ladder, a basket and telling me to go pick the cherries.

  22. To 3:15 PM:
    Conspiracy theories again?

    How long did HC&S hold on, despite losing millions, hoping, through decades of research and trials, it could come up with some way to save the plantation and the jobs?

    It's in vogue to blame the big, bad corporations for everything but how long would you run your financially draining company in the extremely business-hostile climate we have here in Hawaii?

  23. Joan- You are a fine writer. Thank you.
    Thank you.

  24. Kauai's west side still has Sugar's history written all over it.
    But the old folks are going. And most of the kids have no respect for Sugar's legacy or the benefits that the Plantation brought. Like bringing everyone but the Hawaiians to the islands.
    And thru Sugar the ILWU pushed education and equality. Another Sugar legacy.
    Maybe it is time for some Kauai folks to ponder on the past.
    Like the feeble four in the Council that do nothing. Perhaps if they should take (Kipukai as an exception) a lesson from their parents or grandparents, all part of Sugar's past.
    Sugar built most of our roads, laid the foundation for the electric etc., did all of the water and irrigation, laid out the plans for most housing etc.
    LP, Kilauea, Kekaha McBryde and GF Sugar built the island.

    It would be better for Kauai if we fired the do-nothing dog-barking, chimney smoking, quibbling Council and brought back some of the old Sugar Lunas.

    Sh*t would get done. Roads would be built, bridges repaired, homes constructed and Ag water for all. But we are stuck in a merry-go-round of spending millions of dollars with little social or economic benefit.
    Our Mayor and Council have been good for some things. Like having the cops bust every little pot smoker and building a huge prison, doubling the budget, doubling the number of County employees etc.
    Has anybody seen anything our County has done that has helped anyone except for the County workers, their pensions and medical plans?
    Nope--- Double the expenses and NOW THEY F*cking want to raise the GET to fix bridges that were BUILT BY we spend a million bucks for a weird chemical study, we spent a million for a Bynum rice cooker, millions on a couple of miles of roadway...and now 6 million to fix up Lihue. Lihue, where nobody goes and nobody cares.
    Enough of barking dogs, Fistees, Fireplaces, JoAnn tizzy fits and nonsense.
    Get a drug rehab, get a new dump (Mt Yukimura is has reached astonishing heights), beg big land to let some land go for housing, leave the cones up on Kuhio at Waipouli all day, pave certain GF roads for emergency, again BEG big land to help etc.
    I stay ashamed about our spend thrift Mayor and do-nothing Council.
    Bring the Sugar lunas back. Mel---this is all on you. You control the show, the money and the laws. Do something, don't continue being a dud.

    1. Melvin is apart of this Do Nothing County. He is NOTHING!!!!!!!!

      Finally people are realizing that all of the county's budget is getting wasted for paying salaries and retirements.

      The county of Kauai is the definition on how NOT to RUN county government.

      The Mayor and Council's robes has been undressed and now we see where all the FAT is.

  25. Here is a fine article from Mauai about the HCS situation that shows the exact same sentiment as this blog today. Empathy for those who are losing their jobs. But at the same time, refraining from even the slightest attempt at snarkiness. What a breath of fresh air. Mahalo nui to Mahina Martin, whose family works for HC&S, for telling it like it is without resorting to direct attacking individuals. Mahinaʻs words serve to unite rather than divide, and I applaud her attempt to do so!.....

  26. Had I been hired by the green energy smoke plant; I would have been the first killed. Probably by incinerator.

  27. 4:49 what do you do? Easy to blame? Go run for Mayor or Council? You seem like you have answers???

  28. And Richard Ha & family will be closing down their family farm on Hawai'i Island, come March:

  29. I wish you County bashers would realize that we did a lot this year.
    The County built 6 bus stops.
    We are also planning on forcing millions of dollars to be spent on bikepaths. There are nwo over 16 people using these bike paths daily. A good return on the 20 million dollars proposed.
    We are also trying to fix all the hundreds of illegal rentals in Hanamaulu (houses that LP built). The Hanamaulu houses will all have to put in a 20,000 septic system, provide off street parking and bring plumbing and electric to compliance. These fixes will only cost an average of $50,000 per house. A good deal for the tutu kane renting out a room.
    All of Kauai sugar plantations are gone. AB and GR still are in existence.
    Just think, if Da Hoos, Mason and JoAnn get their way, these big landowners will have to sell out like LP and Kilauea.
    But the good thing is that Kilauea Sugar now has hundreds of million dollar estates that do organic farming. Maybe GF and A&B can sell their lands and we can have a bunch of new farmers.
    These farms may cost a million to buy, but in JoAnn's thinking...this is a good thing.
    Oh the locals can't afford it? That's OK. at least the land is in farming.
    Support your local millionaire farmer. Vote Da Hoos, JoAnn and Mason.
    We will add more than 6 bus stops this year with the 200 million the County receives.
    Don't complain, the Council is working hard wasting money. (and just wait until the marrywanna drug stores go for permitting....then you will see a list of powerful connected individuals. Demand to know who will be selling the legal dope.

  30. Same lengthy comments. It's a new year. Try to come up with some new material.


  32. Maybe it's time to bring in some Amish to show people how to farm in Hawaii.

    1. Please don't romanticize the Amish. They have as many (or more) issues as any other community.

  33. @6:36 Because the east coast mainland is so similar to the tropics? People in Hawaii know how to farm if the idiots just get out of the way and let them.

  34. The spectacle of all these white vultures who have had a part in ripping the heart out of Maui circling to pick clean the bones of the 1,000 to 1,200 total jobs lost in HC&S’s closure will only be by matched by the breathtaking vistas of guinea grass, kiawe and bare desertification of the central Maui isthmus with its clouds of dust and wind devils. Kahoolawe may be attractive by comparison. May you choke on a mouthful of dust for every snickering malign word of comments you posted.

    1. So true 6:42 AM. They really deserve humanity. Too bad for the rest of us though.

  35. @ 3:15 pm,

    Aahhhh grasshopper.

    Just developing about 2% of the 36,000 acres would probably give them a profit margin equal to 20 years of burning sugar cane. A Sad day for those who enjoyed the last of the unbleached Hawaiian sugar. A Happy day for realtors on Maui.

  36. To the contemporary "Progressive intellectual" AKA "Gruber disciple", freedom and dignity is the way of the past, so shut-up and be happy with your new government welfare check.

  37. Want the County to save some money. Don't settle suits out of court. Let's go through with the court case. The excuse is it is cheaper to settle out of court. How many court cases can take place in a year? Some cases will have to wait for their day in court. May take awhile. Meantime the County won't have to make a payout until the case is settled. Who knows, we may win a few cases. We have County Attorneys.

  38. Check out Hooser in the pic, why was he even at the presser?

  39. There's an interesting parallel between the plantation closures and the pit closures in Britain during the 1980s. Coal is a dirty, pollution-causing industry, yet progressives rallied to support the mining communities because they recognized the human impacts of the mine closures: Communities devastated, long-term unemployment, local culture disrupted. Watch the movie "Pride" to see how gays and lesbians rallied to support miners. Here, it seems, the only human impacts recognized by the anti-ag folks are their own princess-and-the-pea sensibilities. "The smoke! The toxins! The chemicals!" It's group narcissism masquerading as progressivism with no sense of economic impacts. Makes me sick and want to disassociate from the term progressive, because what it means here on Hawaii is fact-challenged, crystal-gazing, Hawaiian culture appropriating poseurs.

  40. Please leave Hanamaulu alone, they are on public sewer. Yes, there are illegal uses, but at least their non-existent cesspools are not draining into the ocean.

  41. UH study shows hemp could be commercially grown here

    Rick Daysog
    Jan 8, 2016 06:29 AM

    WAIMANALO, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The demise of sugar has dealt a blow to the state's agriculture industry but University of Hawaii researchers are working on a potential alternative.

    A report by scientists at the UH Waimanalo Research Station indicates that hemp can be commercially grown here. A study found that a single acre of land here can produce about 30 tons of hemp stock each year.

    The study also found that an acre of hemp could also produce 30 tons of leaves and stem, which could be used to feed livestock.

    "It's an amazing crop for Hawaii. With the sugar plantation shutting down on Maui, hemp is the natural replacement crop to go to Maui," said state Rep. Cynthia Thielen.

    Hemp can be used in thousands of products including food, clothing, paper, rope and even building materials. And the UH study said that some subtropical varieties of hemp adapted well to Hawaii's climate.

    "You end up with a hemp plant that will be 12 to 15 feet tall and it can actually grow that fast in 12 to 15 weeks," Thielen said.

    The study comes on the heels of yesterday's announcement that HC&S is shutting down Hawaii's last sugar plantation and will lay off 675 workers.

    HC&S said it is taking a close look at hemp.

    It issued this statement today: "Once we are assured the activity is legal, we stand ready to begin trial plantings at HC&S," said Rick Volner, general manager of HC&S.

    But there are hurdles. Even though hemp is legal here, it took UH researchers 11 months to get approval from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to import hemp seeds here. It could take even longer for a private company to start up their own hemp farm.

    1. Hemp is not actually legal in Hawaii. The legislature ok'd a trial effort to be carried out bY UH.

  42. I would imagine that civil rights activists in the 60's said the same selfish, narcissistic, unfeeling comments when all of the segregated swimming pools, restaurants, and motels were shut down or lost business.

    The sugar plantations closed for reasons that have nothing to do with the activists. For many years, taxpayer-financed federal price supports were the only thing keeping sugar production profitable. Those price supports have largely been eliminated, which is why this particular plantation was losing millions of dollars - a situation not helped by the high cost of union labor. Second, sugar is correctly seen as one of the greatest health hazards of the modern world, a product that directly leads to the obesity epidemic we face. Frankly, the comments on this blog strike me as more selfish, less compassionate, and far more vitriolic than the comments by the anti-sugar activists.

    1. You really don't get it, do you?

  43. I hope each shortsighted, petty, scheming activist has a decent alternative employment opportunity ready for at least one of the laid off workers. These are such good people;

  44. 4:54 - You've misstated how the Sugar Act works. The act regulated US sugar prices by limiting cheap foreign sugar imports. It provided a steady retail price which avoided the huge prices spiked & drops over the decades. So only sugar users, not necessarily taxpayers, both benefitted and paid for that price regulation. Sugar has died in Hawaii because the price supports did not keep up with the steadily rising costs of production. Contrary to popular belief, the ILWU worked closely with plantation management minimizing wage & benefit increases in order to keep the plantations in business and the workers employed. Mainland beet sugar production is surpassing cane because its production costs are lower.

    1. To 3:55 AM: Thank you for the explanation regarding price support vs. subsidies; most people don't understand large part due to the many vicious lies broadly and knowingly disseminated by Maui's Karen Chun, as part of her efforts to shut HC&S down. And amazingly, she has a cult following of fellow activists who, following the devastating announcement to the hundreds of workers and their families, are now chanting, "Je suis Karen Chun."

  45. 4:54 The greatest danger to Hawaii and Kauai are self-righteous smug smirky Fistees like you.
    Please, go from whence you came. Learn some respect and maybe come back, but next time keep yer politically correct/socially responsible yapper shut.
    Sugar did more for civil-rights in Hawaii than any law....take a look at the people.

  46. Working in a dying industry for a dying employer that had been losing millions of dollars for years, the sugar workers had to realize their days were numbered. Kodak had 140,000 employees as recently as 1994, but the print film industry was struck by extremely rapid technological change and all 140,000 employees were laid off within 5-10 years. On the other hand, the writing has been on the wall for sugar for many years, with the entire industry in slow decline for decades. If anything, HC&S lasted years longer than basic economics could justify.

    The whole purpose of this particular blog post, and the comments it seems designed to elicit, strike me as being far more about demonizing the anti-ag crowd, and ascribing negative group characteristics towards it (unfeeling, selfish, etc..) and seems to have very little to do with having real empathy for the sugar workers.

  47. It's occurred to me that some KE bloggers take every opportunity to put down activists no matter the cause. These specific bloggers gotta know that just because Joan rags on Shiva, Barca, Hooser, Center for Food Safety, Babes Against Biotech, etc., - that it doesn't mean she is against ALL protests and standing up for what you think is just.
    (Joan does prefer being as factual as possible tho, and doesn't come from a place of fear or sensationalism.)

    To the armchair activist who said, "Joan, I don't know what's happened to you? What happened to the person who did the TVR work and who came so highly regarded by a couple of progressively minded friends?"

    I believe that the "couple of progressively minded friends," side with Joan on most ag issues also. They may not be as vocal about it as the TVR issue, but that's because they are still pretty busy trying to keep the North Shore from going down the crapper.

  48. You're right. The purpose of the blog was to show readers the callousness. and cluelessness -- the true colors -- of so many in the anti-AG crowd. Caring people, especially those of us who have witnessed the demise of other plantations around the state, naturally have deep empathy for the workers who are losing their jobs. They don't need a blog post to elicit such feelings.

  49. The activists who are happy that HC&S is shutting down are not necessarily "anti-AG". Many of them are people with genuine, and very reasonable, concerns about the toxic pollutants that HC&S has been cited for over the years. You make it sound as if their primary motivation is motivated, first and foremost, by being anti-ag. Their concerns are reasonable, given the known health concerns that the Hawaii Dept. of Health itself cited HC&S for - and more than once.

  50. Are their concerns valid? Or trumped up to help bring down the plantation? To quote the article you cited:

    "...all incidents were self-reported by HC&S to the DOH prior to DOH’s review, and there is no indication that these deviations resulted in any violation of health-based air quality standards."

    Many of these same activists are also engaged in campaigns to oust the seed companies and stop dairy farms and cattle ranching.

    I have no doubt some of them do support AG, so long as it's performed by others in a manner they dictate, which is not always feasible from either an economic or practical standpoint.

  51. 1) Even if they were trumped up, the plantation closed down because of economics, not as the result of activism.
    2) HC&S is required by law to self-report any violations, so they get no brownie points for following the law.
    3) The quote "there is no indication that these deviations resulted in violations..of air quality standards" came from the general manager, an interested party. It cannot be accepted as fact.
    4) The plantation burned 100,000 tons of coal every year. It's really hard to imagine anyone living nearby who would not have legitimate concerns about the health impacts of that. Any reasonable person would be concerned.

  52. @ 10:03

    Many of the activists are desperately looking for some meaning in their lives. How unfortunate that they chose Karen Chun as a role model.

  53. To 10:02 AM: You do not know what youre talking about. NO. Any reasonable person would NOT be concerned. HC&S does not use coal in that amount. They burned half that amount of coal in 2015 (they burn mostly bagasss for their energy, which is also used by Maui residents), and all State and federal ambient air quality standards are being complied with. Stop the lies already!

  54. HC&S, in a recent application, stated that it burned 100,000 tons of coal in a recent year. If true, great that they cut it back to "only" 50,000 tons in 2015. Maybe they could have done it sooner.

    Source for my "lie"
    Application Review and docket materials, Covered Source Permit 0054-01-C, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Company, Puunene Sugar Mill (HI Dept. of Health, Clean Air Branch)

  55. Hey 10:39, you are so right. What reasonable person would be bothered by being covered in black ash! No, their attitude should be "Hey kids, the streets are covered in black ash, go outside and play right now!"

    Oh, and here is a picture taken by a camera that evidently lies as well...

  56. Joan,

    You quoted a line in the article I mentioned which stated that there were no known indications that HC&S had violated clear air standards, but HC&S refused to install federally mandated monitoring equipment and were first cited for this refusal in 2003 and never installed it, despite being cited for this refusal a number of times. Without this monitoring equipment in place, it would impossible to know whether the emissions from boiler #3 were in violation of emissions standards.

    Please also note that the other two boilers on the plantation were exempt from Clean Air act requirements, simply because they were installed before the Act came into effect. That doesn't mean they weren't polluting.

  57. This is EXACTLY why you antis have no credibility 10:06 AM; you know damn well no one's going to read the document you cited (but probably didn't read) so you can generate more lies and foment more hysteria.

    By DOH permit, there is a maximum amount of coal that HC&S is ALLOWED to burn. Over the past decade, they have burned an average of 65,000 tons per year. They have NEVER burned 100,000 tons in one year.

    They could also burn approximately a million tons of bagassse each year, if they had it to burn. ..but they burn no where near that amount.

    Unless you know WTH you are talking about, please quit. There are not enough hours in the day to educate you and your ilk on environmental laws and regulations, permitting, and running a business for 145 years that employs hundreds of Maui families and supports our community.

    Regarding the ash 1:12 PM, so sorry your swimming pool has to be cleaned twice a year. Do you realize that agricultural burning is a practice accepted and supported by EPA and USDA, and is done throughout the mainland, including for approximately 700,000 sugarcane acres PER YEAR in Florida, Texas, and Louisiana.

  58. Nothing like warm sugar cane from freshly burned fields for a natural treat.
    The fires were a tradition and accepted nuisance.
    There were a few grumblers in the 60s and 70s on Kauai, but later as the Fistee types moved in...the complaints hit the powerball.
    a) a person who is against all things local, unless dat local thing is in harmony with the newcomers idea of what things should be. Monetized and popularized by Da Hoos circa 2013.
    b) A user of a fist used for unmentionable purpose.

  59. Another "local" tradition. Cook your Portugese Sausage in the plastic wrapper. "Holds da flavor"

    1. I seen that on the grill over 10 years ago and was like WTF! Don't my cousins know that burning plastic on meat is poisonous?

      Hoo deez fakahs dodano.

  60. I hate the newcomers. And I miss the smell of cane fires.


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