Hawaii Dairy Farms Receives Building Permit Approval
News Release from Hawaii Dairy Farms
Koloa, Hawaii – November 25, 2014 – Hawaii Dairy Farms is pleased to announce the County of Kauai has approved the building permits for its 650-699 cow grass-based dairy farm.
“The Hawaii Department of Health has completed its Animal Feeding Operation (AFO) review, which allowed for the approval of the building permits from the County,” said Kyle Datta, general partner for Ulupono Initiative, Hawaii Dairy Farms’ funders. “This is an important conclusion of the regulatory review, because it demonstrates that we have met the necessary federal, state and county requirements for the design of our farm’s AFO.”
“By completing this positive review without requirement of an Environmental Assessment (EA), the regulatory agencies have also protected all small-scale animal farmers on private land from the significant financial burden of doing an EA for any planned expansion or new operations,” said Datta. “It was the right thing to do for agriculture in Hawaii and we appreciate the regulators’ diligence in this decision making process.”
Though Hawaii Dairy Farms (HDF) has obtained the right to develop the farm, HDF recognizes there is community concern over the potential impact of the dairy on the environment. To alleviate concerns, HDF is voluntarily conducting the highest environmental scrutiny standard of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to construction of any dairy facilities on the farm, and will submit the EIS to the State Department of Health, which will be the accepting agency.
“By going directly to an EIS, we are demonstrating our commitment to work with the community to address its concerns based on facts, not fears,” said Datta. “As a matter of good faith, we pledge not to undertake the construction of the dairy buildings, utilities or effluent ponds until after the regulators have accepted the EIS.
During this review period, we will continue to maintain our pastureland and install fencing as allowed by our NRCS conservation plan approval. The purpose of this dairy is to produce fresh, local milk for families across the state at prices everyone can afford. It will also strengthen the ability of the agricultural sector to continue to provide meaningful jobs and valuable economic support for Kauai,” said Datta.
The original proposal of 2,000 cows on site was modified in July 2014 to 650-699 cows. The EIS, which will explore the full potential of the farm, will help HDF continue the conversation with the community and demonstrate how its grass-based approach is protective of water quality and the natural environment.
“We know some members of the community are concerned about the perceived impacts of the cow manure. We will work with experts from across the state, along with the community, to do an EIS to confirm that our farm is a superior method of farming that will regenerate soil quality and improve the overall environmental quality of the area,” said Datta.
Hawaii Dairy Farms is Hawaii’s first zero-discharge grass-fed dairy, located on 578 acres in Mahaulepu, Kauai. The farm will help increase statewide local milk production in an effort to restore Hawaii’s dairy industry and produce a fresh, local product Hawaii’s families can afford. The operating budget is projected to be about $6 million annually to support Kauai’s economy.
KGI: HDF says it will delay construction, conduct voluntary EIS
...Datta added that by completing the review without requirement of an Environmental Assessment, the regulatory agencies have protected all small-scale animal farmers on private land from the significant financial burden of doing an EA for any planned expansion or new operations. He called it the “right thing to do for agriculture in Hawaii.” ...
“By going directly to an EIS, we are demonstrating our commitment to work with the community to address its concerns based on facts, not fears,” Datta said.
Tuesday’s announcement received praise from several project opponents, including Kawailoa Development, LLP, owner of the nearby Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa and the Poipu Bay Golf Course, which filed suit against HDF in 5th Circuit Court in July.
Jun Fukada, general manager of Kawailoa, said he was pleased HDF has listened to the community’s concerns and that the EIS process aims to alert decision-makers at the earliest practicable time to significant environmental effects.
“Kawailoa Development trusts that the agencies will use the information in Hawaii Dairy Farms’ EIS in their decision-making to rigorously protect our environment and community,” Fukada said. “With the commencement of the review process, it is vital that the dairy farm not be constructed until the EIS has been accepted and finalized.”
Hennessey said HDF is working with Honolulu-based Group 70 International on the EIS process, the same firm that’s been helping HDF with its plans for the farm.
“We’ve been told it takes 6-9 months for an EIS, but it really depends on how the process goes,” she wrote in an email.
Once complete, HDF will submit the study to DOH for approval.
Bridget Hammerquist, an outspoken opponent of HDF’s plan and member of local group Friends of Mahaulepu, said that while she is not convinced the EIS was entirely voluntary, she is pleased HDF will complete one.
“I think it’s great,” she said. “To me it’s the first big step they’ve taken in the direction of protecting the environment.”
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