UH Agent Helps Feed Maui Community, and Local Ranchers Stay in Business
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources Extension Agent Kyle Caires is helping the Maui community get fed, and livestock producers who have been directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic stay in business.
Caires along with Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino and others, announced a new CARES Act-funded partnership with local ranchers to provide ground beef to Feed My Sheep and people in need.
Caires helped facilitate the county’s commitment of $200,000 to support the ranching community, and the purchase of cattle from independent ranchers, according to a university press release. About 1,000 pounds of ground beef, per week is being processed and distributed to individuals, nonprofits and community feeding programs.
Beginning on Monday, Sept. 14, the program received Maui County approval to expand the ground beef purchase program to the island of Molokaʻi to support their ranchers and local harvest facility.
Another program that is helping Maui ranchers is the Livestock Producer Assistance Program, an initiative of the Maui County Farm Bureau, which has awarded more than $12,000 in funds to 19 livestock producers on Maui and Molokaʻi whose families represent agricultural production on 9,345 acres of land, totaling more than 1,500 cows, 980 hogs, 670 goats, 150 sheep, 70 horses and 330 laying hens.
“The COVID-19 crisis reminded us all of the importance of ensuring our island’s food security,” said Caires, who is chair of the program. “We all know that empty shelves in the grocery store can be frightening, but I assure you that vacant fields and empty pastures would be far more devastating to our island culture and economy as we move into the future.”
Caires said, “Livestock help manage thousands of acres of land in Hawaiʻi and provide overlooked ecosystem services, such as fire suppression during times of drought like we are experiencing now. Our awardees represent roughly 693 years of ranching experience in Maui county, and we’re glad that the LPAP was able to help these ranchers weather the storm and stay in business.”
*This article originally appeared in UH News.