Channel: The Kaʻū Calendar News Briefs, Hawaiʻi Island
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Ka`u News Briefs Friday, May 8, 2015

Agriculture and coastal management in Ka`u are topics at Ka`u CDP focused discussions tomorrow. Photo by Julia Neal
PROPOSED CHANGES TO AG TAX EXEMPTIONS went into the storage shed Tuesday when Hawai`i County Finance Committee postponed Bill 317. Kohala Council Member Margaret Wille introduced the bill after a task force spent about two years studying tax structures that allow various exemptions depending on how owners use ag land.
Council member Maile David
      Wille said the purpose of the bill was to benefit those who produce by closing tax loopholes and changing “the lax status to actual ag production.” According to Wille, about 10,000 landowners receive ag tax exemptions but do not farm. Her bill called for three-year programs in which owners would have to prove that the land is being farmed, either by receiving income of or losing at least $2,000 per year.
      Ka`u’s County Council member Maile David said she agreed that the county needs to tighten up exemptions for ag use but disagreed with Wille’s bill. “When you create a bill like this that has so many layers of procedures and so many things that require the farmer to do, I’m not sure we are actually helping the farmer or deterring him because of all the paperwork you have to do,” she said.
      David questioned how to determine what bona fide ag is. Council members referred to gentlemen farmers, who, for example, have large parcels and “two sheep” and take ag exemptions. “The problem is separating a farmer that has the resources to go full-on farming and mom-and-pop operations,” David said.
      She also quoted one of her farming constituents saying, “This will do more harm than good for the small ag community.”
      Jeff Melrose, who published the county’s agricultural baseline study, asked the Council to look at implications and choices before making changes to the tax structure. “It’s important to apply tax structure to the goal of food sustainability,” he said. He suggested looking into creating a tax category for local food production.
      Ka`u rancher Kyle Soares said he has spent tens of thousands of dollars on property taxes for 2,500 acres over 20 years. “If you think pasture is worth $420 an acre in property taxes, you’re kidding yourself,” he said. He said he has planned to stop his ranching operation in January 2016.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

NEW FEDERAL OVERSIGHT RULES FOR HAWAIIAN HOME LANDS are proposed and available to view at doi.gov/ohr/notifications. The draft marks the first time that the U.S. government has attempted to set up rules for its responsibility in administration of the 200,000-acre land trust for Hawaiians established in 1921. There are 60 days to comment. 
      The Department of the Interior oversees the state’s involvement in Hawaiian Home Lands under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. The proposed rules cover such situations as analyzing the benefit or loss to Hawaiians when the Hawaiian Homes Commission and Department of Hawaiian Home Lands trades trust lands for other property. Included are requirements that federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act and federal land appraisal standards, be followed.
      Congress established the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act to provide land to Hawaiians for farming, ranching and housing for the lease rate of $1 a year. Native Hawaiians have long complained of long waiting lists, with many dying without ever having access to land. In Ka`u, Hawaiian rancher Tommy Kaniho has lobbied for decades for water for ranch lands at Ka Lae to make the lands more useful for ranching, farming and living. In addition to the Ka Lae, South Point, area, Hawaiian Home Lands are located mauka of Punalu`u and within Discovery Harbour where DHHL purchased more than 40 houselots.
      A statement from DOI says the agency “takes our responsibilities for the Hawaiian Home Lands Trust and its beneficiaries seriously” and calls the trust “vital to the health and strength of the Native Hawaiian community and especially to the beneficiaries who live on the lands or are on the waiting list for a homestead lease.”
      Statewide, more than 26,000 Hawaiians are on the waiting lists.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Stephen Schatz
STEPHEN SCHATZ IS HAWAI`I’S NEW deputy superintendent for the Department of Education.
      Schatz brings 20 years of educational experience to the DOE leadership post. He most recently served as assistant superintendent for the Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance, overseeing assessment and accountability, data governance and analysis, and policy, innovation, planning and evaluation.
      “I’m passionate about instruction and focused on supporting our leaders to provide equity of opportunity for all students within our system,” Schatz said. “I want to thank the Superintendent and the Board for their trust and look forward to working with our principals and teachers in achieving student success.”
      Schatz joined the Hawai`i public school system at the beginning of the 2002-03 school year as a vice principal at Wai`alua High and Intermediate before becoming principal of Pohakea Elementary in Leeward Oahu in 2004.
Schatz was appointed complex area superintendent for the Honolulu District in February 2009.
      He became assistant superintendent for strategic reform in July 2011.
      Schatz has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz and a master’s degree in education administration from California State University Dominguez Hills.
      Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi said, “Stephen not only brings his educational experience to the position but also his perspective as a parent of two public school children.”
      Schatz fills the vacancy left by Ronn Nozoe, who moved to Washington, D.C., where he is now deputy assistant secretary for policy and programs in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Department of Education.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Mobile slaughter services are coming to Ka`u. Photo from Hawai`i Island Meat
SMALL-SCALE KA`U RANCHERS WHO RAISE livestock will soon have a new option for quality, humane and convenient slaughter services and can learn about this new offering at upcoming workshops in Hilo and Pahala. 
      A mobile slaughter unit capable of processing pigs, sheep, goats and cattle will open for business on the island in early 2016. Hawai`i Island Meat, a cooperative business created in response to the expressed needs of island ranchers for additional local slaughter facilities, will be facilitating two free informational workshops for producers interested in accessing the service.
      The workshops will be held in Hilo from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 17 at the Komohana Agricultural Research Station, 875 Komohana Street, and in Pahala from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, June 14, at Pahala Community Center. 
      Like their counterparts in the continental United States, many meat producers on Hawai`i Island face significant barriers to starting and maintaining their businesses. Despite its abundant ranch lands and ranching operations, the island currently imports 17 percent of its beef and more than 95 percent of its pork, lamb and goat products due to competition from imported meat products, high operational costs and insufficient access to U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected slaughterhouses.
      HIM’s 36-foot trailer, made possible with funding from the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture, will meet USDA sanitation standards and be capable of processing eight to 10 head of cattle, 15 pigs and 30 lamb or goats per day.
      “Not only will the mobile slaughter unit help to revitalize family ranching operations on Hawai`i Island, it will increase the amount of healthy, locally grown protein available to our communities and can be part of the solution to reduce the island’s population of feral and invasive cattle, pigs, sheep and goats,” said Melanie Bondera, cooperative business development specialist at The Kohala Center. “Locally produced meats are also in high demand by island residents, visitors and gourmet chefs, so the increased availability will contribute positively to farm-to-fork programs and our local economy.”
      More information about the program is available on HIM’s website at HawaiiIslandMeat.com or via email at HawaiiIslandMeat@gmail.com.
      To comment on or like this story, go to facebook.com/kaucalendar.

Mexican flag
ST. JUDE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH in Ocean View hosts its annual Cinco de Mayo fiesta today. Doors open at 6 p.m., and dinner is served from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with live music Tickets are available at the door for $8 each or two for $15 or can be pre-purchased from Thom White, Elaine Meier or Cordelia Burt. Call 939-7555. 

AGRICULTURE AND COASTAL MANAGEMENT in Ka`u are topics of focused discussions tomorrow at Na`alehu Community Center. Ka`u Community Development Plan staff members speak with Ka`u residents about ag at 9 a.m. and coastal management at 1 p.m. 
      See kaucdp.info or call 961-8137 for more information.


See kaucalendar.com/KauCalendar_May2015.pdf.
See kaucalendar.com/Directory2015.pdf and

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