HB8: Weighing In On Hawaii’s Food Security

Picture of Fish Meat Veggies

By: J. S.

House Bill 8 was introduced to the Hawaii Legislature on January 21, 2021. The bill is described as, “establishing the Hawaii Food Security Initiative Program within the Department of Agriculture.” The bill supports the establishment of metrics for adequately measuring local agriculture growth and distribution, as well as identifies means of creating food security in the state, “including deriving a majority of Hawaii’s food supply from locally-produced, sustainable, and regenerative sources by 2035.” Those interested in reading the full House Bill can do so here.

Improving food security in the State of Hawaii is a longstanding discussion that has gained additional momentum as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As reported in HB8, roughly only 10% of Hawaii’s food supply is currently grown in the state with the remainder of the state’s supply being imported from outside locations. This results in an estimated loss of $3,000,000,000 in state revenue and leaves Hawaii vulnerable to food shortages. It is estimated that in the event that imports were shut down, the islands only have an eleven-day food supply. According to a 2012 report by The Office Of Planning Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism, the high percentage of Hawaii’s food imports makes the state especially vulnerable to “natural disasters and global events that might disrupt shipping and food supply.” Source

HB8 states that the Hawaii State legislature, “finds improving food security vital to public health… The legislature further finds that the actual percentage of locally-produced food could vary widely depending on what measurement system is employed… In addition, the legislature finds that Hawaii does not have a standardized food security metric system.  Accordingly, in order to increase food security and self-sufficiency, methods to accurately determine Hawaii’s local food production should be studied to help establish a standardized food security metric system.” In summation, the “purpose of this Act is to increase food security in Hawaii by establishing a Hawaii Food Security Initiative Program within the Department of Agriculture.”

Upon introduction, on January 27,  the bill was referred to the House Agriculture Committee and the House Finance Committee. Currently, the bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Agriculture Committee on February 17 at 10 a.m. in House Conference Room 325 via videoconference and is open for the public to view the hearing and submit written and verbal testimony. Those interested in the topic of Hawaii’s food security can view the live video stream by visiting the Hawaii State Legislature website or clicking here. Four other bills related to agriculture are also slated for discussion and may be of interest. Citizens interested in submitting written testimony can do so by logging into www.capitol.hawaii.gov and searching HB8. The same website can be used to read the full bill, submit written testimony, as well as sign up for video testimony. Stay current on conservative writings.