Governor Announces Significant Progress on Ag Land Transfers from DLNR to HDOA

Posted on Jan 18, 2024 in Main




 January 18, 2024

HONOLULU – Under the administration of Governor Josh Green, M.D., the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) and the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) are making steady progress in transferring state leases for pastoral and agricultural lands from DLNR to HDOA. The complex and challenging work continues as both departments work to preserve the state’s agriculture and natural resources.

“Protecting and preserving agriculture is mandated in the Constitution of the state of Hawai‘i,” said Governor Green. “The transfer of these leases, representing tens of thousands of acres, will help to further preserve important agricultural lands and support the state’s self-sufficiency. As stewards of our islands’ precious land resources, we owe it to ourselves and our future generations to increase our ability to produce food locally, as well as to support all forms of agriculture. This will help to feed our families, to support our farmers, ranchers and floriculturists and expand diversification of our economy for generations to come,” Governor Green said.

In 2003, the Hawai‘i State Legislature passed Act 90, which provides that certain agricultural lands with or without leases could be transferred over to the HDOA upon the approval of both the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) and the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture (HBOA).

To date, 24,200 thousand acres of agricultural lands have been approved and transferred by DLNR to HDOA. In October 2023, the HBOA approved, accepting 99 more parcels on the list, totaling 21,672 acres, which still requires the review and approval of the BLNR.

Both DLNR and HDOA have been working hard to resolve multiple land issues including the protection of agriculture and the conservation of natural resources. Lands identified for potential transfer are mostly pasture and ranch lands, but also include other agricultural parcels.

“We know that many lessees are anxious about the future of their ranches and agricultural operations on state lands,” said Sharon Hurd, chairperson of the HBOA. “We appreciate their patience and want to let them know that both our departments continue to work diligently to fulfill the requirements of Act 90 and balance the important issues of protecting agriculture and the environment.”

DLNR is working in partnership with HDOA to transfer the lands mutually agreed upon to be more appropriately managed by the Department of Agriculture. At the same time, each parcel is unique and should be reviewed individually to ensure that lands that have endangered wildlife and plant habitat, hiking access, native forest, watershed values, and other natural and cultural resources continue to be managed by the DLNR.

DLNR Chair Dawn Chang said, “DLNR is committed to implementing Act 90 which requires DLNR and HDOA to agree on the transfer of certain leases. While DLNR and HDOA share many common goals, we recognize that our departments have different missions; HDOA is to protect agricultural lands and DLNR is to preserve and protect valuable cultural and natural resources, including watershed protection and trails and access. Under Governor Green’s leadership, we have made historic progress to not only meet our missions but serve the people of Hawai‘i.”

While land transfers continue through the process, DLNR and HDOA remain committed to working on the transfer of additional, suitable agricultural lands.

Images from today’s news conference are available here

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