Farm to State ProgramPosted on Dec 23, 2020 in Main
The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) Farm to State program is an offshoot of the Farm to School program that links Hawai`i farmers and ranchers to schools and other state government institutions that have food service operations. HDOA invites local food producers to be part of the Farm to State program by submitting a list of commodities they have available for procurement by state government institutions, including the Department of Education (HIDOE), Department of Public Safety (prisons), Department of Health and the Hawai`i Health Systems Corporation (state-run hospitals).
To participate in the program, producers may complete the online form at: https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/f2sform/
Farmers may provide information on available produce and commodities, future harvests and surplus commodities that need to get to market quickly. The information provided will be shared with state departments with food service operations.
Food producers who have questions about the Farm to State program may contact Heath Williams at (808) 973-9591 or email: [email protected]
In the past, government procurement rules have hampered the sale of local produce as some imported foods cost less and have priced out Hawai`i farmers. The higher cost of foods produced in Hawai`i is attributed to various reasons, including increased labor, land and production costs for local food producers. More recently, there has been a growing consciousness that while imported commodities may be less expensive, the benefits of buying local go beyond just a cost factor. Supporting local food producers provide fresher commodities, increase the state’s food security and helps to keep the money circulating in our local economy rather than sending it out of the state. When farmers can have some assurance that their produce will be purchased, they can plan their crops and production better and become stronger businesses. In addition, when farmers and producers can increase production, it also increases employment opportunities in our community.
Originally, the Farm to School program was established by Gov. David Ige in 2014 and enacted legislatively in 2018. Its administration has changed hands since, first from the HDOA, then transferred to the HIDOE. The Farm to State program encompasses a wider range to include other state departments and is being coordinated by HDOA.
The Farm to State program continues HDOA’s mission “to lead the State’s efforts to maintain the agricultural sector of Hawaii’s economy, including livestock, forestry, crops and aquaculture, in a strong and competitive conditions by providing policies, services, loans, subsidies, environmental protection, land and water, operations, facilities, advice, coordination, and information as to achieve appropriate rates of growth, high levels of employment, reasonable returns on investment, and steady gains in real personal income.”
For more background on the Farm to School program and other resource agencies, go to: https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/farmtoschool/farm-to-school-background/