Last week, the House Ag Committee heard testimony on House Bill (HB) 849, which would amend Hawaiʻi state law to "ensure that counties cannot enact laws, ordinances, or resolutions to limit the rights of farmers and ranchers to engage in agricultural practices."

Introduced by Rep. Clift Tsuji ("Biotech Legislator of 2010") and others, HB849 is seen by many as an attempt at resurrecting the "Hawaiʻi Monsanto Protection Act", another pre-emption attempt which was introduced and defeated early in the 2014 legislative session.

In reviewing the written testimony submitted for the Feb 5th hearing, there were 188 testimonies opposing HB849 and only 11 in support. [^1] More than 17 to 1 opposing pre-emption.

So how is it that the Ag Committee voted the way they did, going against the vast majority of public opinion expressed in the testimony and passing the Bill unamended? [^2]

The 11 "Support" testimonies included Alexander and Baldwin, Inc. ("A&B") and the Hawaiʻi Crop Improvement Association (trade group representing Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, Pioneer-Dupont, and BASF ). There was also support for the bill from the state and Maui Farmers Bureaus, and the state Dept. of Agriculture.

The "Oppose" testimonies included: the Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, Rep. Cynthia Thielen, several County Council Members, quite a few small scale farmers and farmersʻ initiatives, with the other 175+ testimonies from individuals around the state.

So we leave it at this: WHO are our elected representatives listening to??

The "Oppose" pre-emption testimonies included: the Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United, several County Council Members, quite a few small scale farmers and farmersʻ initiatives, and 175+ testimonies from individuals around the state. The 11 testimonies in Support of HB849ʻs pre-emption included Alexander and Baldwin, Inc. ("A&B") and the Hawaiʻi Crop Improvement Association (trade group representing Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, Pioneer-Dupont, and BASF).

[^1] The Content of testimony was counted, not only the label. It was clear that several times, people who indicated "Comments Only" were clearly trying to express Support or Opposition.

[^2] (Two representatives, Derek Kawakami of Kauaʻi and Lauren Kealohilani Matsumoto of Oʻahu were the two "No" votes.)

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