Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Musings: Slug Fest

The “slug fest” — to use Rep. Kaniela Ing's term — continues at the Hawaii state legislature, and in Washington, D.C., too.

Yeah, that's how we do politics now. Every vote is to the mat, with the hopes of inflicting crushing defeat — or better yet, lethal injury — on one's opponent. Doesn't matter how much ideology must be invoked, how many lies must be told.

How else to explain Ing's disingenuous claim in announcing his “proud” vote in support of mandating pesticide disclosure and buffer zones from “chemical ag corporations like Monsanto?”

Too often, these corporations hide what they spray and the scientific risks involved. But we know better. In recent years, children from 16 Hawai'i schools were forced to evacuate and sent to hospitals due to pesticide exposure.

Yes, but not one of those evacuations was caused by the seed companies. Does Ing not know this? Or is he simply not bothered by lying — as we saw during his recent plea bargain?
So Ing and his pals — including Reps. Richard Creagan and Cynthia Thielen — are busy pandering to the loud, well-funded, anti-GMO crowd, passing pesticide bills that are intended stick it to the seed companies. In actuality, they're pounding more nails into the coffin of Hawaii agriculture.

And all the while they're ignoring science, budget considerations, their larger constituency and common sense. How else to explain passing a bill that requires buffer zones between crops and schools, but allows the application of pesticides directly in the schools themselves?

But hey, when you're in a “slug fest,” all you care about is winning — not making good laws or doing what's best for the entire community.

Make no mistake, it's a slug fest here in the Islands when it comes to agriculture. On the one hand, you have actual bona fide farmers — people who have spent their lives working the land and are fighting to see ag continue. On the other, you have the activists, many of them Hawaii newcomers and virtually none of them with any true farming experience. Some haven't even had a garden.

But they've seen social media images of how agriculture should be — communal, organic, local — and they like it. Even if it doesn't make economic, environmental or practical sense. Even if it's totally elitist and ignores the poorest members of society. Even if its adoption would require intense social control and would most likely end in failure and famine, as has occurred repeatedly in recent history when that same experiment has been tried.

Their indoctrination continues with an unrelenting stream of propaganda, such as surfer Cyrus Sutton's “Island Earth” video, which "coincidentally" is circulating the state now, served up by the Hawaii Center for Food Safety and Hawaii SEED.

How is it that surfers have developed such expertise on ag? Or is it just that they're used, like the now disgruntled Dustin Barca, to make the anti-ag movement seem so cool and hip?

Meanwhile, McKay Jenkins, who calls himself an “environmental journalist,” is promoting “Food Fight,” his book pushing a new food system. But when you read the piece he wrote for Outside, which parrots all the anti lines, it's obvious he's just trying to put a new shade of lipstick on the same old pig.

Unfortunately, their utopianism defies the sniff test, by which I mean reality. Take, for example, a recent article in the Maui News:

Brandon Shim, a produce purchaser at HFM Foodservice on Maui, said he would like to buy more local items, but he must turn to Mainland businesses because they can generate the volume needed for distribution. But Mainland farmers also have lower land and labor costs than local farmers, he said.

Currently Shim said he has to import 80 percent of the produce from an out-of-state distribution company, leaving only 20 percent of his produce local, just because of the sheer volume he needs.

So while there's an awful lot of talk, it's not translating into the hard work of farming.

Meanwhile, the dreamy-eyed antis are trying to stop the dreaded “industrial ag” in its tracks — and imposing more costly and burdensome regulations on local ag in the process.

The Maui News piece reminded of a really good article by farmer Chris Newman titled “Why the Local Food Movement Needs to Stop Congratulating Itself.” The author was digging into federal procurement records and started making some comparisons:

Even the small orders were for staggering amounts of food: 5,000 lbs of ground beef here, 2,000 lbs of chicken leg quarters there, 2,500 lbs of turkey breast over here. The smaller offerings typically involved at least 10,000 lbs of meat. The larger orders shot north of a quarter-million pounds.

This, of course is just the tip of the iceberg. My “Meats” search yielded 18 pages of results (the awards I’ve mentioned were just the first few on the first page), and all 18 pages were just for the Bureau of Prisons. BoP has to feed the roughly 190,000 people in Federal lockup. Compare this to the 1.5 million active duty personnel in the U.S. military, and I shudder to think how much meat is procured by the U.S. Army alone. Then of course there’s all the institutional food procurement that goes on outside the aegis of the Fed; public schools and universities, hospitals, prisons and other institutions run at the state, county, or municipal level. All of them are contracting their food needs to the lowest bidder.

Take a farm like Virginia’s own Polyface Farms of Swoope, VA. By the standards of farms that produce real, wholesome, ecologically-oriented food, Polyface is a behemoth. When Michael Pollan made them famous back in 2006, they were producing some 125,000 pounds of beef, chicken, and pork every single year.* Assuming they’ve increased production four-fold since then (this is a VERY generous assumption based on my own observations of the farm), Polyface cranks out a half-million pounds of meat per year.

This seems like a lot, until you realize that this monster farm’s entire annual production would barely fill two of the hundreds of meat requisitions put out by JUST the Bureau of Prisons last year. Add in all the other federal and non-Federal institutional demand discussed earlier, and you realize just how tiny a drop in the bucket even the flagship farm of the real-food movement is.

So maybe, before the antis demolish what some people have worked their lifetimes to achieve, they should be putting a little more effort into actually building what they envision.

McCay ended his anti-GMO screed with a quote from Gary Hooser likening the Hawaii anti-GMO movement to the Standing Rock protests. Hooser's cultural co-opting aside, yes, it is very similar to the part of the protest that had all the wannabees and cause du jour types flocking to North Dakota and weighing in on an issue, their opinions shaped solely by their social media echo chambers — and then leaving a huge mess for others to clean up.

Right now, those of us who are fighting to preserve ag in Hawaii are watching the antis and their legislative champions — most notably Kaniela Ing and Rep. Chris Lee (who, btw, has never actually held a job and still lives at home) — make a mess and burn it all down. 

It remains to be seen whether a Phoenix rises from their ashes, or just more of the guinea grass, albezia and African tulip trees that now cover so much of Hawaii's abandoned ag land.


Anonymous said...

"....On the other, you have the activists, many of them Hawaii newcomers and virtually none of them with any true farming experience. Some haven't even had a garden."

So true it hurts.

Anonymous said...

Good description of what's happening at the Lege. Most farmers are too busy to get involved in politics so people with lots of time on their hands and malice on their minds are destroy local agriculture. These people are all about controlling others.

Anonymous said...

The foodies have no absolutely no clue how much production is required to keep the stores stocked with all the food they take for granted. It's not going to happen with CSAs and community gardens.

Anonymous said...

"Most farmers are too busy to get involved in politics" Apparently not those in Nebraska.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Joan it appears to be all about the numbers at the legislature. And, when it was pointed out that there is a greater risk of pesticide exposure in the home than coming off of a rural farm certain of the members of the House Ag committee took umbrage with that. They accused HDOA of being disingenuous and trying to move the discussion away from ag chemicals and on to other arenas not up for discussion. Well, duh, yeah! Because that's the facts. But, apparently, the facts don't matter. The sad reality is that if the real farmers don't submit testimony in opposition to these very egregious bills there will be severe restrictions placed upon them that will make it increasingly difficult to make a dent in replacing all those tons of imported food that is coming in from God knows where. It is getting to the point that I truly fear for the future of agriculture in our State.

Anonymous said...

Good article on the depth of the problem. They are days that I am just tired of the lies and say to myself why are we fighting this. Let's just let them destroy agriculture and let them wallow in their creation. But lets do it all the way. We only can import foods that are organic AND grown without pesticides (since we know organic farmers use organic pesticides) It's okay that a carrot will cost $5.00 because we are now doing it the right way (huh?). Hey maybe we will lose a few pounds. And starvation will kill off the people that cannot afford food, genocide of the poor. Or in this case probably most of the middle class also. So the side benefit will be to reduce our population, congestion, social services and the like. What a Utopia we will have. Yes it will be paradise. Until of course the hungry hoards come to your house and bash down your door and kill you for a piece of bread. To make it fair let's make sure they know where Hoosier lives.

Anonymous said...

2/8 @ 10:36 AM, it's a little cold in Nebraska right now, so maybe the farmers there have a little extra time to spend on things they normally don't have enough time to do during their growing season.

Marjorie Ziegler said...

Making it personal - mean and petty!

Anonymous said...

@10:36, seriously!!!! the world is really small, and if you've been off of this rock, you would know, shit don't grow in the winter months in Nebraska.

COMMMMME ONNNNN NOW, it shows your lack of smarts / common sense, or your come back is soooo freaking lame, or you've haven't been reading this blog or not retaining anything on this blog, because, it was mentioned before that Nebraska has time to do other thing especially in the winter months where THEY CAN'T FARM THE GROUNNNNND! and you're just another anti agricultural heckler posting for the sake of posting.


Anonymous said...

Hotels, timeshares, and condos will rise from the death of ag...pity and a shame. More development, traffic and crappy jobs to keep the undereducated using opinions based on ad populum fallacies to support their activism, Instagram followers and Facebook rants.

Anonymous said...

OMG Joan, this is so true and so depressing.
Seen it with my own eyes yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe you Marjorie!
"Marjorie Ziegler said...
Making it personal - mean and petty!
February 8, 2017 at 12:10 PM"

It IS personal, and it sure isn't petty, when our taxes pay for a cocky legislator to pander to an ill-informed and deceptive lobbyist who has a destructive and disastrous agenda for Hawaii and her people.

What's happened to you Marjorie? I used to look to you for guidance and updates on environmental matters, thinking that you were informed and reasonable in your analysis. No more. Please educate yourself on real ag issues in Hawaii by talking to real farmers here before you put your foot in your mouth and unduly influence others.

Anonymous said...

Please educate yourself before you post.

Anonymous said...

Rep. Mark Ing (funny how he decided to go with "Kaniela" when he got into politics) is not good for Maui or the rest of the state.

I've got kids older than him who don't drive without registering and insuring their cars, are truthful, smart, mature, responsible, and hard-working. I wouldn't even vote them into State office because there is no way someone that age has the maturity and perspective to understand and make state laws.

I sure as hell didn't vote Mark into office in 2012 at the age of 23.

By the way, Mark barely made it to the extremely long hearing on pesticide bills yesterday, didn't ask one question of the four Dept. of Ag experts and two Dept. of Health experts, but has the audacity to think he knows it all.

Unknown said...

@ 12:21 & 11:48 Thanks for the love...

I saw Gary Hooser's testimony at the Ag Committee's hearing. He's still clinging to his notoriety as a "Former Kauai County councilman".

I didn't watch it all, and I didn't watch it live. The farmers and Hawaii crop improvements Association rep did very well... There is video on FB and other area farmers can watch the video. Hopefully they can see how easy it is to testify, and they'll try to budget some time to make their voice heard.... It seems like this legislation might get steamrolled through and be another major court battle to overturn...

BTY, other farm groups like the NCBA (National Cattlemen's Beef Association) or National Corn Growers Association might be interested in this cause. Have they been made aware of the current legislation being considered?

Anonymous said...

'Hundreds of comments were submitted on the issue — most of them in support of the bills which address the Pesticide Advisory Committee, buffer zones, disclosure and prohibiting certain pesticides.' What happened to that majority you were talking about? Easy to fire up the natives to go after a white guy, not so easy to get up and stand up for something that everybody knows is bad for everyone white or brown.

Anonymous said...

The antis are paying airfare for people to fly over and every day they are sending out emails all you have to is click support. It's easy. They are not a majority.

Anonymous said...

Pakalolo stupid. While heroin and meth destroys Kauai, the kpd clowns want to go after pakalolo. Wtf I thought they just accreditated? Oh yeah accreditation doesn't make you a smarter dept and it certainly doesn't clean up the dirty pig dept. guess who is protecting the drug rings on Kauai that has connections to the drug cartels?

Jenna Carpenter - The Garden Island | Posted 3 hours ago

LIHUE — The Kauai Police Department has received over $70,000 in federal funds to aid the fight against drugs on the island.

That money comes from a Department of the Attorney General grant called the Edward Byrne Memorial Grant. It means KPD can participate in two projects, the Hawaii Narcotics Tax Force, or HNTF, and the Statewide Marijuana Eradication Tax Force, or SMETF, both of which work to reduce drug threats and drug-related crimes.

“It is part of an ongoing effort to combat illegal narcotics we see on daily basis,” said Bryson Ponce, assistant chief of KPD.

On Wednesday, Ponce and KPD Sgt. Kenneth Carvalho addressed the Kauai County Council, who approved the grant.

KPD received $40,747 to participate in SMETF, which not only will help KPD enforce medical marijuana laws but will also help the department control how medical marijuana gets to Kauai.

The goal of the program is to eradicate illegal marijuana in the state through cooperation and sharing of information, personnel and sources via outdoor eradication operations, indoor marijuana cultivation investigations, parcel investigations, undercover investigations and training programs, according to the grant application.

“There are only certain ways for these illicit drugs to end up on the island — it’s either the air or the barge,” Carvalho said. “So some of these funds will be used to help our employees get to the check points.”

According to the grant application, most marijuana on the island is being sent from California. Additionally, marijuana is the illegal drug most widely abused by Kauai teenagers and often acts as a gateway drug, leading abusers down a path toward using harder substances like cocaine and methamphetamine.

The eradication program will help KPD stop cultivation and also help police stop trafficking of drugs to Kauai, according to the application.

Mel Rapozo, council chair, said he supported the grant because it will help police get a handle on marijuana that is not being used legally.

“You have to realize marijuana is still a Schedule I drug. People tend to forget that and minimize the effects of marijuana,” he said.

An additional $31,433 was awarded to KPD to participate in HNTF, which focuses on all other drugs, Carvalho said.

“We have problems with crystal methamphetamine and heroin,” he said. “We are working really hard to cut these drugs coming to the island.”

By participating in HNTF, KPD hopes to disrupt the flow of narcotics by arresting distributors through inter-agency corporation, decreasing narcotic-related criminals and the number of drug trafficking organizations and added training for vice officers.

According to the grant application, KPD seized 2384.82 grams of crystal methamphetamine, which is up from previous years. For example, in 2014, just over 1,965 grams was seized. In 2013, 1,569.3 grams were seized and in 2012, 1,096.6 grams were seized.

In 2015, 46 people were arrested on drug-related search warrants and 237 cases were initiated. Over $45,081 worth of property — eight vehicles and four firearms — and $120,575 in U.S. currency was forfeited. Three local drug trafficking organizations were either dismantled or disrupted.

On Wednesday, Councilman Arthur Brun said he wished the county could allocate more money to fight the drug epidemic on the island.

“We have an issue here. It starts with marijuana,” he said. “No one in high school wakes up and says they want to do heroin today. It starts small with marijuana and alcohol. And that’s where we have to put our resources.”

Anonymous said...

Just say it's over 500K with taxes because the houses price tag is 499K and not 400K. How many local people can afford that sell outs oops I mean council members?

Housing bill passed

Jenna Carpenter - The Garden Island Posted: 3 hours ago

LIHUE — The County of Kauai now has the ability to buy units that are part of the Hanamaulu affordable housing development.

Anonymous said...

4:19 AM After six month if it has not sold the county can buy it for half that price, which is the idea...

Anonymous said...

Hi Joan, read your comment on Jenkins' article in the Washington Post, good job spreading the truth. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to here your comments about Derek Kawakami's thoughts in the newspaper today. !if it was Hooser you have blown a gasket already. And before you accuse me of being an anti, I'm for the dairy.

Joan Conrow said...

Yes, I would have been surprised to see such a letter from Hooser since he's been opposed to the dairy. But since this is about Derek, I'm not sure why you even brought Hooser up.

Anonymous said...

Fools!!!! The county is probably gonna buy it at full price (500K) then sell it to their family members at half the price (250K). That's the game that they play with the blank checks then they want to raise taxes after all the criminal shenanigans. They've learned that from Ron Kouchi and his bunisess partners (former land owner/speculator).

Anonymous said...

4:12 “We have an issue here. It starts with marijuana,” he said. “No one in high school wakes up and says they want to do heroin today. It starts small with marijuana and alcohol. And that’s where we have to put our resources."

Whatadope! Using Brun's logic coffee is a gateway drug to meth.

Anonymous said...

The drug problem comes from the human mules (batunas that are kpd informants). The same drug batunas that run wild on Kauai and some was prostitutes for Ritchie who supplied them to the Black Book list that got Freitas and Lum fired. All they do is RAT out the competition and protect the side cash action for the dirty pigs that protect them. That's the game folks so shut up because there's nothing to see here.