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MidWeek Staff

Progress On Whitmore Agribusiness Projects

Direct from Donovan…Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz

At the recently held Agribusiness Development Corporation’s (ADC) board of directors meeting, I did a presentation on the Whitmore Project, which is a long-term vision to create a centralized hub for agricultural operations in Central Oahu that includes but is not limited to commercial farming, land acquisition, packing, processing, workforce housing, food safety, education, value-added, marketing, high-tech, agro-tourism and manufacturing.

The ADC board is receptive to and wholeheartedly supports the project, and indicated they appreciated the creativity, passion and ability to look at the big picture. One of the Neighbor Island board members said if they had leadership like this several years ago on his island, they could have prevented valuable agricultural lands from being developed. Another board member said she tremendously supports this project and that the state should be focused on agricultural land banking.

In further board business, the ADC board unanimously approved establishment of the Land License Review Committee to begin reviewing applicants for farm land on the Galbraith land that the state acquired in Central Oahu. In addition, executive director James Nakatani announced that ADC has begun clearing the Galbraith land. This signifies substantial progress, given that ADC only acquired the land in December 2012.

Although progress is happening, future board actions and broader support are required for full implementation of the Whitmore Project. A board member stated that the ADC board should move forward in taking the proper procedures to recognize this as an ADC project.

There are not many opportunities to address the current challenges local farmers are faced with on a daily basis. In crafting this project, I foresaw it being used as a template for other rural agricultural land areas in the state, and therefore, I am happy to see it progressing.

The following CIP projects are included in the FY 2013-14 budget and are integral projects for the Whitmore Project: * Land Acquisition, 1,200 acres, Galbraith Land $12,500,000 (completed) * State Packing and Processing Facility, Whit-more Village, Oahu $3,600,000 * Galbraith Lands Irrigation System at Lake Wilson, $750,000 * 257-acre Dole Parcel, Warehouse in Wahiawa $12,500,000 * Land Acquisition, 22,000 acres, Dole Land $175,000,000

I am pleased that the Whitmore Project is coming to fruition and as each step is accomplished, it brings it that much closer to reviving agriculture as a dominant industry in Central Oahu and along with it, the creation of jobs and revitalization of the community. Further, it will also enable us to reduce our dependence on imported produce and support local agriculture.

Call state Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz at 586-6090 or email sendelacruz@capitol.hawaii.gov.

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