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Councilman Ilagan to Introduce Bill 185 – Certified Organic Bill

On Tuesday, February 4, Councilman Ilagan will be introducing Bill 185, which further defines agricultural tax incentives to include an organic produce provision. This bill will be heard in the Finance Committee scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.

Click to read the proposed bill

Click to read the proposed bill

Encouraging the growing certified organic industry is a positive step forward in helping Hawaii County move towards the goal of food self-sufficiency. In conjunction with conventional farming operations, we need to explore and promote all means possible for reducing the amount of food and agricultural products imported into the state.

Bill 185 is a step along this path. Supporting local agricultural activity is not only an economic benefit but can also significantly reduce the threat of importing pests, and lower the possibility of introducing diseases that can threaten native plants and locally produced foods. A thriving agricultural industry is an important part of our island lifestyle, and helping farmers from different agriculture fields will bring us closer to realizing food self-sufficiency on the Big Island.

Highlights of Bill 185:

  1. Certified organic farmers are assessed at the same value as pasture and slow rotation forestry, which is the lowest assessed value per acre for agricultural use.
  2. A certified organic tax relief is based on more intensive agricultural use with limited County agency oversight due to third party enforcement and site inspections.
  3. A tax incentive for certified organic operations will help to enable new farmers to start, and established small farms to continue farming.
  4. Annual recertification process for certified organic operations encourages farmers to continue farming land for intensive agriculture use.
  5. Tax breaks will lessen the burden of certification costs which ranges from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, and relatively high production costs due to the increased labor requirements.
  6. Approximately 200 growers are certified organic farmers in Hawai’i, and the median size is 5 acres on the Big Island, according to the 2007 Agriculture Census.
  7. Encourages the establishment of high value niche market products.

For more information call (808) 961-8825, or visit http://puna4.com