Hawaii Healthy Soils Policy

Senate Resolution SR51 SD1

Dates:

Senate Resolution 51 SD1 (2019) passed April 2019

Legislation:

SR51 SD1

Sponsor/s: 

Description:

The resolution requests that the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Education at the University of Hawaii create a strategy for students to learn about “modern farming, including methods and techniques of modern farming related to aquaponics, hydroponics, machinery, soil and water sensors, weather tracking, satellite imaging, pervasive automation, minichromosomal technology, radio-frequency identification technology, greenhouse technology, and vertical farming.”

Soil Health Definition:

N/A

Stated Goals:

  • Develop new curriculum that is appropriate for students grades six through twelve;
  • address land tenure issues for farmers including but not limited to long-term land leases and infrastructure concerns;
  • Gather information from other countries of strategies resulting in higher yields, greater productivity, lower input costs, and increased profitability for farmers;
  • submit a report findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation.

View Report submitted December 13, 2019

Program Required Measurements:

  • N/A 

Tools & Guidance: 

  • N/A

Funding Source/s: 

  • N/A

Funding Type/s: 

  • N/A

Practices defined as “modern farming practices”: 

  • Conservation Tillage
  • Crop Rotation
  • Intercropping
  • Cover Cropping/Green Manure
  • Composting
  • Use of improved seed
  • Integrating livestock and crops
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Smart Farming Systems
  • Protected Agriculture / Protected Cultivation
  • Hydroponics
  • Aquaculture
  • Aquaponics

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • N/A

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

  • The report identifies examples of existing and proposed agriculture educator positions.

Education & Advocacy Groups:

  • The report identifies examples of existing and proposed agriculture educator positions.

Lessons Learned:

  • N/A

Media:

  • N/A

Maps:

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Carbon Farming Task Force 

Dates:

HB 1578 passed June 2017
Replaced by the Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force in 2018

Task force status: The Task Force was defunded in the fiscal year 2019-2020 but still exists.  Advocates are seeking a legislative champion to return funding to the Task Force.

Legislation:

Task Force was created by HB 1578

Codified by Act 33, Carbon Farming Task Force: Session Laws of Hawaii 2017

Amended by HB 2182

Codified by Act 15, Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force: Session Laws of Hawaii 2018

Sponsor/s: 

Description:

The Bill established a Carbon Farming Task Force to identify agricultural or aquacultural practices that sequester carbon, decrease marine sedimentation, and provide emissions reduction to support the creation of a carbon farming certification. The Task Force must produce a preliminary report of its findings, recommendations, and proposed legislation to the legislature before the regular session in 2023 and produce a final report prior to the regular session of 2025.

The Task Force was overseen by the State of Hawaii Office of Planning and funded through the General Fund of the State of Hawaii.

Soil Health Definition:

“Soils that enhance their continuing capacity to function as a biological system, increase soil organic matter, improve soil structure and water and nutrient holding capacity, and result in net long-term greenhouse gas benefits.”

Stated Goals:

  • To identify agricultural or aquacultural activities and best practices that provide carbon sequestration benefits that may be used to establish a carbon farming certification.
  • To reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector and to improve Hawaii’s resilience to climate change 
  • The Task Force was conceived to overcome the historic division between agriculture and environmentalists through soil health and carbon farming as well as achieve Hawaii’s climate goals.

Program Required Measurements:

  • N/A 

Tools & Guidance: 

  • N/A

Funding Source/s: 

  • The General Fund of the State of Hawaii (received $50,000 in the fiscal year 2017-2018) 

Funding Type/s: 

  • N/A

Practices Eligible for Funding: 

  • N/A

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • Task Force is overseen by the Office of Planning 

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Lessons Learned:

  • Take the time upfront to educate lawmakers on the synergies and opportunities possible through improving soil health 
  • Bring together ranchers, farmers, and environmentalists. The Center for Food Safety hosted a conference to educate and build relationships; in this process, it was critical to ensure that producers and land managers had a seat at the table from the beginning. This helped people work together and agree on shared goals. 
  • While Task Force members are often met with skepticism because their position is often one of compromise on stricter or more “impactful” laws, the Task Force performs important groundwork for future work through building coalitions and education
  • This bill benefited from a strong elected champion who introduced and shepherded it through the legislature. 

Media:

Climate Smart and Healthy Soils, Hawaii 

Maps:

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_________________________________________________________________________

Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force (GGSTF)

Dates:

HB 2182 passed June 2018

Task Force formed February 2019

Legislation:

HB 2182, Act 15, SLH: Environmental Protection; Carbon Farming Task Force; Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force; Sequestration; Emissions; Office of Planning; Task Force; Appropriation 

Sponsor/s: 

Representative C. Lee

Description:

In June 2018, Hawaii’s Governor Ige signed HB 2182 into law as “Act 15,” establishing a permanent Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force in the Office of Planning and Sustainable Development. Act 15 repealed Act 33 (2017), replacing the Carbon Farming Task Force with the new Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force (GHGSTF). The GHGSTF is made up of 19 members, representing state and local government, universities and extension programs, environmental nonprofits, agricultural/ranching associations, and other relevant appointees.

Act 15 also established a statewide target to both adapt to climate change and mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by sequestering more GHGs than the state produces by 2045: 

“This chapter establishes the framework for the State to: 
(1) Adapt to the inevitable impacts of global warming and climate change, including rising sea levels, temperatures, and other risk factors; and
(2) Mitigate its greenhouse gas emissions by sequestering more atmospheric carbon and greenhouse gases than the State produces as quickly as practicable, but no later than 2045.”


Soil Health Definition:

No soil health definition yet.  Definitions for agriculture, forestry and other land use (AFOLU), agroforestry, carbon sink, and forestry can be found here.  

Stated Goals:

The Greenhouse Gas Sequestration Task Force (GHGSTF) aims to align Hawaii’s climate initiative goals with the state’s clean energy and carbon sequestration efforts. The mandated tasks include:

  • Establish a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baseline as well as short- and long-term GHG sequestration benchmarks;
  • Identify criteria to measure GHG sequestration that may be used to create a certification program for practices that generate agricultural and GHG benefits; 
  • Identify policies that would promote increased GHG sequestration and build healthy soils;
  • “Identify ways to increase the generation and use of compost in Hawai‘i to build healthy soils”;
  • Identify policies to add trees and vegetation in urban areas to mitigate high temperatures and increase climate resiliency; 
  • Make recommendations to the legislature and governor regarding measures to increase climate resiliency, build healthy soils, provide greenhouse gas benefits, or cool urban areas;
  • Develop incentives and funding mechanisms for these practices; and
  • Provide research, education, and technical support. 

Outcomes

The task force is set to present a preliminary report to the legislature and climate change mitigation and adaptation commission no later than 20 days before the convening of Hawaii’s 2023 legislative session, and will submit a final report no later than 20 days before the convening of the 2024 legislative session. 

During their March 16th 2022 meeting, the task force formed three Permitted Interaction Groups (PIGs), one on agriculture, one covering aquaculture and marine use, and one on urban green infrastructure, to research and report on their respective scopes in preparation for the preliminary report. Both the agriculture PIG and the urban green infrastructure PIG are tasked with identifying and making recommendations to increase the generation and use of compost.

Program Required Measurements:

  • N/A

Tools & Guidance: 

  • N/A

Funding Source/s: 

  • Appropriated $150,000 from the general revenues of the State of Hawaii for the fiscal year 2018-2019 to create the Task Force
  • Defunded in 2019-2020.

Funding Type/s:

N/A

Agencies Involved:

Rulemaking Process:

  • Task Force is overseen by the Office of Planning 

State Universities & Researchers: 

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

Education & Advocacy Groups:

Unknown

Lessons Learned:

N/A

Media:

N/A

Maps:

N/A

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NOT PASSED: Cover Crop Reimbursement Pilot Program

Dates:

Introduced January 2020. Failed to pass in July 2020.

Legislation: 

SB2704/HB2167

Sponsor/s: 

Description:

This bill would establish a cover crop reimbursement pilot program to provide up to 100% cost reimbursement to farmers or ranchers in Hawaii for acquiring cover crop seeds or green manure. A cover crop reimbursement pilot program manager position would be created within the Department of Agriculture to administer the program.

Soil Health Definition:

N/A

Stated Goals:

“The legislature finds that the use of cover crops and green manure increases agricultural productivity and aligns with the State’s integrated sustainability goals. Plants used for this purpose, including grasses, legumes, and forbs, add nutrients to the soil, act as windbreaks, assist with water retention, provide habitats for beneficial insects, and help to prevent soil erosion.

The legislature further finds that it is in the interests of the State to incentivize the use of management practices that enhance the quality and sustainability of Hawaii’s agricultural lands.”

Program Required Measurements:

N/A

Tools: 

N/A

Funding Source:

Appropriation from the general fund.

Funding Type: 

Reimbursement up to $50,000 per year per applicant.

Practices eligible for funding: 

“Cover crop” and “green manure” mean the plants listed in the cover crop and green manure database maintained by the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources.

Agencies Involved:

Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA)

Rulemaking process:

The program would be implemented by the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA).

State Universities & Researchers: 

University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources

Agricultural Organizations & Technical Assistance:

N/A

Education & Advocacy Groups:

N/A

Lessons Learned:

N/A

Media:

N/A


VETOED BY THE GOVERNOR –Healthy Soils Program

SB2989 is a new bill establishing a Healthy Soils Program that was enrolled to the Governor May 2022. The Healthy Soils Program requires the Department of Agriculture to offer education, technical assistance, and grants to help farmers implement healthy soils practices. $500,000 was appropriated to support this bill. 

The Healthy Soils Program shall:

  • Create a statewide soil health assessment
  • Provide education and technical assistance to farmers
  • Establish healthy soils standards based on the findings of the GHGSTF (created by Act 15) 
  • Provide financial incentives to encourage on-farm healthy soils practices

The Act was set to take effect on July 1, 2022 but was vetoed by the Governor. 


Allowing Composting in Agricultural Districts

HB1992 facilitates composting by making it a newly permissible activity within agricultural districts. The Hawaii legislature recognized the soil health, agricultural, and climate benefits of allowing composting in agricultural districts. 

This bill amended Hawaii’s definition of agriculture to now include composting, as follows:

“Composting and co-composting operations; provided that operations that process their own green waste and do not require permits from the department of health shall use the finished composting product only on the operation’s own premises to minimize the potential spread of invasive species.”

The bill was transmitted from the Hawaii legislature to the Governor May 2022. 


Farmer Apprentice Mentoring Program

SB3197 appropriates $300,000 toward a farmer mentorship program to help new farmers learn soil health best practices from mentor farmers. Since composting is considered a best practice, this program can promote composting and assist with monitoring of newly permitted operations. 

This bill was enrolled to the Governor May 2022 and is expected to take effect in July 2022.


We thank Sophia Jones, Policy and Development Associate at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for her contributions to this page.

Last updated 7/14/22


Questions?

Contact Hawaii@healthysoilspolicy.org