The Investigation of the Agribusiness Development Corporation

pineapple fields

By: Amoka Mele and Jeff Tadashi

Since 1994, the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) has been working to provide leases and tax breaks to small farmers with success stories on Oahu and Kauai.  A legislative audit recently discovered the ADC has actually done little to diversify Hawaii’s agriculture industry. This discovery led the legislature to form a rare investigative committee. State lawmakers investigating the ADC will have their first meeting this week to establish the rules for forthcoming probe.  Committee members intend to follow up on the auditor’s report by requesting documents and even subpoenaing witnesses.

There was once a bill to dissolve the ADC and transfer lands and staff to the Department of Agriculture, but the state legislature couldn’t agree with a plan to reform the organization.  The investigate committee chair – state Representative Della Au Bellati – said that the committee wants now to understand how much progress ADC has made in inventorying and identifying all the lands for which they are responsible.  The committee also wants to see what ADC has done to manage the leases that they have on all the islands, not just the ones that they have on Oahu. At the conclusion of the investigation, the committee will make recommendations in next year’s legislative session based on their findings.

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Some Hawaii residents harshly criticize ADC for doing little to nothing.  Criticizing residents point to ADC being blatantly irresponsible with their record keeping and doing little with taxpayer dollars.  Others criticize ADC for not managing their properties properly ― like the brush land surrounding Whitmore Village.  The evidence of mismanagement is described by these critics as trash dumps and homeless encampments on the leased land.

There have been some notable exceptions.  The ADC has plans for a unique farming community in Whitmore with production facilities, housing, and a distribution hub that were featured in an international design journal.  The board of directors for the Whitmore Economic Development Group, describe ADC as an asset.  They do not see how folding the ADC into the Department of Agriculture would help the Whitmore project.

The state, as we well know, is really tight on funds.  Folding ADC into the Department of Agriculture is broadcast as a potential cost savings endeavor.  The audit, the investigative committee findings, and legislative votes next year are all ingredients going into the ADC – into – the Department of Agriculture folding recipe.  Legislators rightly report that Hawaii residents wants to see a lot of progress, especially given the amount of taxes they pay, and that lack of results is frustrating to many people.

We also hear the normal political bumper stickers such as “Agriculture and the disposition of public lands is very important to the people of Hawaii”; “It’s part of advancing our economy and ensuring that we have a public land base for the future”; and “We’re taking this very seriously”.

Borrowing a word from our great socialist colleague, Barry Obama, let’s begin by using the word “Look”. ADC has been around for nearly 30 years and the Department of Agriculture far longer than that.  Hawaii agriculture is worse today that when both agencies began.  Giving the ADC to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture will be akin to the pot calling the kettle black.  The Hawaii Department of Agriculture will mismanage former ADC lands far worse than the ADC ever did. 

There could also be a dastardlier undertaking in play here.  Which powerful Democrat in our state government really wants the lands that ADC has in inventory and what do they want it for?  We have seen lands permitted for social housing be used for solar farms instead.  We have seen other lands permitted for social housing construction, lay fallow for decades.  If Hawaii history serves us well, there is a far nastier design intended from this investigative committee’s results and its recommendations.  That design will ultimately take the lands for a purpose we do not see yet and will only see once the decisions are too late for voters to change. 

The design also entails Democrat fratricide. This investigation is a move intended to deflower a political rival who is backing ADC.  The Hawaii Democrat Politburo is not monolithic.  There are several Democrat camps within it and with them their Democrat financial kingmakers vying for future state power.  ADC and Whitmore Village is probably backed by a Trotsky whom a Lenin is targeting for political diminishment and ultimately for removal.  Such is the way the Communist Game of Thrones is played and has been played for decades in Hawaii.   They intend for the game to go on that way for decades until there is only the rich to tax and nothing left for the poor and middle class to eat and drink.

The bottom-line is that Hawaii cannot feed itself.   If cut off from the mainland, Hawaii at best has seven days of food.  All of us cannot eat taro or cheese covered baked sunflowers grown on a few acres of ADC leased farming land in Waimanalo.  If order to feed the state and turn Hawaii into an agriculture and aquaculture asset to the nation and to the world, Hawaii’s agriculture must deregulate, privatize, and industrialize.  We have to take corrupt, mismanaging Democrats out of the equation or it will never ever get any better.