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Bill to Require State Departments to Increase Purchase of Locally Grown Produce Advances

Locally grown produce, file photo by Wendy Osher.

To help diversify our economy, create jobs, and support local agriculture, Representative Scot Matayoshi has introduced HB 817 relating to agriculture.

The bill requires all state departments to ensure that a certain percentage of the produce they purchase are locally grown, gradually increasing the annual percentage amount.

“If the State is serious about diversifying our economy into agriculture, we need to put our money where our mouth is and support our local farmers and ranchers. This bill will gradually raise the percentage the State spends on locally grown produce, which includes fish and livestock products, to 50 percent by 2050,” said Rep. Scot Z. Matayoshi (Kāne‘ohe, Maunawili, Olomana). “This will give our local farmers and ranchers the ability to produce at a volume to be price-competitive with many mainland products.”

The bill requires that each state department that purchases produce make sure that a minimum of 10% of their produce is grown locally by 2025. That percentage increases every five years to 50% by 2050. Each department would be required to submit an annual report to the legislature with the total of local produce purchased as measured by cost per calendar year.

Locally grown agricultural products include fruits, nuts, coffee, vegetables, meats, dairy and poultry products.

According to a state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism report, between 85 percent and 90 percent of Hawaiʻi’s food is imported which makes us vulnerable to natural disasters and global events that might disrupt shipping.

“The need to diversify our economy has never been clearer than during this COVID-19 pandemic when tourism dried up. It’s time to get serious about supporting and growing our agricultural industry, and the State must lead the way,” Matayoshi said.

In 2005, the state launched its “Buy Local, It Matters” campaign to encourage residents to support Hawaiʻi farmers by making conscious decisions to purchase locally grown produce. Supporters say this bill takes that idea a step further.

The bill was passed by the Government Reform Committee on Feb. 10 and has been referred to the Consumer Protection & Commerce, and Finance committees.

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2021/02/10/bill-to-require-state-departments-to-increase-purchase-of-locally-grown-produce-advances/

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