News Release – NR09-07 – June 26, 2009

Posted on Jun 26, 2009 in 2009 News Releases, News-Releases

HONOLULU – Thirty-one years after the passage of a constitutional mandate to preserve and protect agricultural lands in Hawai`i, the State Land Use Commission (LUC) today approved by unanimous vote, a petition submitted by Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (A&B) to designate more than 27,000 acres in Central and Upcountry Maui as “Important Agricultural Lands” (IAL). In an earlier petition, A&B received approval from the LUC to designate 3,700 acres of IAL on Kaua`i.

“This is a historic moment that demonstrates a true investment in agriculture in Hawai`i,” said Sandra Lee Kunimoto, Chairperson of the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA). “This designation is the fruit of years of concerted efforts by farmers, landowners, government, legislators and many others to save the best agricultural lands for future generations.  A&B should be commended for stepping up and being the first to dedicate lands to IAL and we look forward to additional designations by other landowners and farmers.”

The lands designated on Maui are located in Central Maui and extend from Maalaea, Kahului, Paia, Haliimaile to Kihei and are mostly in sugar cane production, with some lands in seed corn and pasture.  On Kaua`i, the lands are located in Lawai and Hanapepe and currently in coffee, seed corn, rice, taro and pasture.

“There were a lot of people who put in a lot of time over the years to craft an IAL law that would help—not hurt—farmers and agriculture, thus preserving and protecting this important industry in the best way possible, said Dean Okimoto, President of the Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation and owner of Nalo Farms, Inc.   “People often talk about how much they love agriculture, and want to see it stay in Hawai`i, but then do little to support the local farmers. Our laws, our regulations, our consumers need to support agriculture if they want agriculture to remain in Hawai`i. Agriculture is a business—it’s not a lifestyle or a hobby. It has to be viable to survive.

“I am proud of A&B for stepping up to the plate,” Okimoto continued. “Not only do we now have a significant infusion of high-quality lands dedicated to agricultural use into the future, but A&B has also helped to ‘de-mystify’ the process for the small farmers. That is what is great about this IAL law—it works for small and large famers alike. And, you know what? The industry needs both to be viable.”

The identification and designation of IAL was first proposed at the 1978 Constitutional Convention and subsequently approved by voters in the same year.  Several attempts to establish IAL in statute were attempted over the years, but it was only in 2005 that Act 183 was enacted.  In 2008, Act 233 was enacted to establish incentives, such as tax credits, loan guarantees and expedited regulatory processing to encourage farmers and landowners to designate lands under IAL. This designation also makes it more difficult to utilize these lands for non-agricultural uses.

For more information on IAL, go to the HDOA website at:

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To view a map of the Maui IAL lands, click here.

To view a map of the Kaua`i IAL lands, click here.




Janelle Saneishi

Public Information Officer
Hawai`i Department of Agriculture

Ph:  973-9560

Fax:  973-9613

e-mail:  [email protected]



Ann Yamamoto

Executive Director

Hawai`i Farm Bureau Federation

Ph:  848-2074