Representative Scot Matayoshi’s bill to support local agriculture has passed both chambers of the Legislature and now moves to Governor Ige for his signature. HB 817 HD2 SD2 requires all state departments to ensure that a certain percentage of the produce they purchase is locally grown or is a value-added product that contains more than half locally grown produce.
“If our state is truly committed to reviving our agricultural industry and diversifying our economy, we need to put our money where our mouth is. That starts with supporting local farmers and weaning our state away from our dependence on tourism,” said Rep. Scot Z. Matayoshi (Kane‘ohe, Maunawili, Olomana).
The bill requires that a minimum of 10% of the produce purchased by state departments 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.
“We see the progress being made towards clean energy set years ago. This bill will set us on a similar path for both our local agricultural industry and food security,” said Matayoshi.
The bill will help ensure that state monies used for the procurement of produce remain within the state and directly support local businesses that generate local produce and food products.
Locally grown agricultural products include fruits, nuts, coffee, vegetables, meats, fish, dairy, and poultry products. Local value-added products must contain at least 51% agricultural product grown, raised, and harvested in Hawaiʻi.
According to a state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism report, between 85% and 90% of Hawaiʻi’s food is imported, making us vulnerable to natural disasters and global events that might disrupt shipping.
“Improving our food security is a must. We need time to grow our agricultural industry to the point where Hawaiʻi can survive a shipping disruption without everyone immediately clearing the grocery store aisles,” 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. This bill takes that idea a step further, mandating state purchases of local produce.
The House agreed to Senate changes in the bill this week avoiding the need for a conference committee hearing. The bill has been sent to the Governor for his signature.