Amazing HFUU Presidents
These twelve chapter farmer leaders are directing Hawai‘i towards food production and self sustenance. Hawai‘i Farmers Union United has twelve chapters across four islands. Each chapter meets regularly and addresses concerns of local farmers with important place-specific attention. This past October these dirty dozen left the overalls and wheelbarrows on the farm and made their way to the annual convention graciously held at Kahumanu Farm in Waianae, O‘ahu. As agenda tradition demands, the presidents made presentations of their respective chapters. The reports were jaw dropping and changed mood to one of Hawai‘i’s hopefulness. Anyone interested in Hawai‘i’s ag issues should look to see if any of these said 12 are near, support will be found.
Mauna Kahalawai Chapter,
Eric Drake Weinert Jr.,
East Hawai‘i Chapter,
Find out more about chapters of this organization at: hfuuhi.org
Letter from the Chair
Last month HFUU held its 2017 Convention in Waianae at Kahumana Farms. Both the NFU and the HFUU support “sustainable agriculture” in their policy statements and/or bylaws, yet many members continue to stress “regenerative agriculture”. According to the National Agriculture Library list of definitions, the term “regenerative agriculture” was coined by Robert Rodale (need year), but Rodale later in 1990 recognized that “regenerative agriculture methods are only a component of sustainable agriculture.” Rodale (1988) stated, regenerative agriculture should improve the natural resource base upon which sustainable agriculture is (among other things) dependent.
As we have shown in earlier newsletters, “Sustainable Ag” also requires “social and cultural equity”, “economic efficiency” (i.e., ecological economic accounting without externalities), and the protection of “Ecological Integrity” (not just maintaining soil and microbial health, but the native biodiversity of plants and animals, particularly endangered species).
One of HFUU’s primary goals is to increase membership of both sustainable/organic farmers and help transitional farmers (conventional chemically-based) to increase their farm profits, help protect the environment and the plants, animals and people that live in it.
It is important to note that truly “Sustainable Ag” cannot be sustainable without the integration of organic methods, in contrast “organic farming” can be either sustainable or unsustainable, depending on the precise methods and materials used.
These examples and comparisons are in the National Agriculture Library definitions that we just adopted.
Aloha no e malama pono,
Don “Lalakea” Heacock, Chair SAC
2017 Convention Policy work
The Policy Committee presented post 2016 Convention work: Define Sustainable Agriculture; Define Aquaculture; and Provide an acronym glossary.
An acronym glossary was added at the end of the HFUU policies. The Policy Committee Chair Jessica Wooley stepped down from Chair to run for elected office on O‘ahu.
Union of Concerned Scientists, Letter signed by 480
A distinguished group of scientists and experts from universities and colleges across the United States—including land-grant universities in agricultural powerhouse states such as Iowa and California—has launched the following statement calling for increased public investment in agroecological research.
Qualified experts in agriculture and related fields were asked to add their names to this statement.
We support greater public investment in agricultural research that applies ecological principles and relies, to the greatest extent possible, on ecological processes (“agroecology”) to address current and future farming challenges.
Agroecology regards farms as ecosystems embedded in broader landscapes and society. Agroecological approaches are based on understanding and managing ecological processes and biological functions to increase and sustain crop and livestock productivity, efficiently recycle wastes/inputs, and build soil fertility, while minimizing harmful impacts on soil, air, water, wildlife, and human health. Hallmarks of agroecological farming practices include increasing the types of crops rotated on fields from year to year; controlling pests and weeds with fewer and no chemical pesticides; enhancing soil health while reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers; including high crop diversity or bio diversity in tropical agroforestry systems; and valuing non-cropped areas of farms for the services they provide.
Further more, the United Nations publication Agriculture at a Crossroads has recommended returning to and promoting traditional agroforestry agroecological methods like the Hawaiian ahupua‘a system.
Agroecological farming has a proven track record of meeting farming challenges in a cost-effective manner. Research has found that applying agroecological methods, like those detailed above, can result in high yields for each crop in a rotation sequence. In addition, long-term studies have found that organic practices—a specific set of agroecological practices that eschew the use of all synthetic chemical inputs—typically improve soil health compared to plots where conventional practices are applied, and may produce comparable yields. This research also demonstrated that economic returns for organic crops can be greater than for conventional crops, despite higher labor costs.
These findings indicate that additional research has the potential to increase our understanding of agroecological methods and increase their adoption. Farmers could benefit from this added knowledge to produce a wide range of crops in many different regions, with greater resilience to variation in pests, weather conditions, markets, and other factors.
While other approaches may also yield promising solutions, they are more likely to already benefit from private sector support. Agroecology is less likely to be supported by the private sector since these farming methods often reduce requirements for purchased inputs. This leaves to the public sector the responsibility to fund agroecological research that serves the interests of farmers and society.
At present, however, public research into agroecology is drastically inadequate. Land-grant universities were once guided by their original missions to enhance understanding of agriculture that served the public interest. But these institutions have fallen victim to budget cuts that have driven them to rely upon private dollars to fund research, leveraging public investment largely for the benefit of the private sector. And past analyses have found that funding for agroecology is a very small part of the federal research budget.
Agroecological research can further our understanding of productive and profitable farming methods that will minimize harmful impacts on human health, the environment, and rural communities. These methods will provide resilience to both anticipated events such as climate change as well as unforeseen developments. Modest public investment can yield enormous returns for farmers and society well into the future.
Link to relevant research on facebook page, Sustainable Agriculture Committee.
Iowa State University Long-Term Agroecological Research Compares Agronomic, Ecological and Economic Performance of Certified Organic Cropping Systems
Delate, et al. (2013) has shown that the Long-Term Agroecological Research (LTAR) experiment, at the Iowa State University (ISU) Neely-Kinyon Farm in Greenfield, IA, was established in 1998 to compare the agronomic, ecological, and economic performance of certified organic cropping systems to conventional counter parts. Cropping systems were designed based on local farmer input and practices. In the second LTAR phase (2002 to 2010), equivalent organic and conventional corn (Zea mays) and soybean (Glycine max) yields were achieved in the organic corn-soybean-oat (Avena sativa)/alfalfa (Medicago sativa ) (C–S–O/A) and corn-soybean-oat /alfalfa-alfalfa (C–S–O/A–A) rotations compared to the conventional corn-soybean rotation (C–S). Organic oat and alfalfa yields, at 103 bu/acre and 4.4 tons/acre, respectively, exceeded county conventional farming averages of 73 bu/acre and 3.3. tons/acre, for the same period. Similar plant protection occurred in organic crops, without the use of petrochemicals, compared to conventional crops maintained with synthetic pesticides. In Fall 2009, soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, and extractable K and Ca were 5.7%, 9.5%, 14.2%, and 10.8% higher in organic soils, respectively. Soil properties related to biologically active organic matter were up to 40% higher in organic soils. Economic returns to land and management in 2010 were $510/acre in the organic C-S-O/A-A rotation compared to $351/acre in the C-S rotation. The LTAR experiment will be continued as a valuable demonstration of the potential for organic crops to achieve comparable yields while increasing carbon sequestration and economic returns compared to conventional corn and soybean rotations.
• HFUU Kaua‘i Chapter, Sustainable Agriculture Committee invites new members, please email Faith@FarmersVoiceHawaii.com