State briefs for February 5

Company halts plans for dairy on Kauai

MAHAULEPU, Kauai — Hawaii Dairy Farms says it is discontinuing plans for a pasture-based dairy operation on Kauai.

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Amy Hennessey, director of communications for investor Ulupono Initiative, said in a statement that Hawaii’s environmental regulations “seem to unfairly” place dairy farms in the same category as wastewater treatment plants.

Community organization Friends of Mahaulepu led local opposition to the farm, which included a lawsuit and travel to Hawaii Island to help a community there respond to an overflow of untreated effluent.

Critics said the dairy at Mahaulepu could impact drinking water and an already polluted stream. They worried the dairy’s wastewater could make it to the ocean, just as waste from Big Island Dairy did.

Mahi Pono plans to offer farm lots to local farmers

WAILUKU, Maui — The company that bought a vast expanse of Maui land from Hawaii’s last sugar cane plantation plans to kick off its new operations by offering lots to local farmers to grow their crops.

Mahi Pono principal Ceil Howe III said it will offer 1-, 5- and 10-acre community farm blocks to local farmers. Farmers also would have access to Mahi Pono’s equipment, management, budgeting and marketing services.

Mahi Pono is a joint venture of California-based Pomona Farming and the Canadian Public Sector Pension Investment Board.

It bought 41,000 acres from Alexander &Baldwin in December after the longtime sugar grower decided in 2016 to get out of the agriculture business and focus on real estate development.

Mahi Pono was looking at placing the lots near the old Puunene Mill, a central and visible location that has access to water and is sheltered from the wind, Howe said.

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The farm also would provide plots for research and offer an internship program for high school and college students. It also would have an advisory board of local community members, who would set the rules and parameters.

Shan Tsutsui, Mahi Pono senior vice president of operations and former lieutenant governor, said the company is still working out how much it will lease the land for.

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