Kauaʻi Agricultural Good Neighbor Program

Kauaʻi Agricultural Good Neighbor Program:

A Re-evaluation

The Environmental Mediation Center has completed a re-evaluation of the Kauaʻi GNP. The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (HDOA) contracted with the EMC to gather input from residents, businesses, and organizations about the value of the Kauaʻi GNP, hear suggestions for improvement, understand its relevance in light of mandatory requirements established by the Hawaiʻi Legislature, and assess whether best management practices could be incorporated into the GNP.

Read the Report here.

Key observations:
The Kauaʻi GNP provided information about application of Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) that community residents and organizations found beneficial.  Voluntary buffer zones and advance notification guidelines created a sense of enhanced protection from the use of RUPs. Through interviews and surveys, participants offered suggestions for improvement on all aspects of the GNP.

Two major developments since the inception of the GNP have affected its ongoing efficacy. First, business consolidations, operational changes, and, in one case, a shift away from using RUPs, may have reduced the potential exposure of West Kauaʻi residents to RUPs from large-scale farming operations. Second, the codification of some elements of the GNP into state law, including mandatory reporting of RUP applications, caused some companies to stop submitting reports to the GNP data portal, rendering moot a key reason for its existence.

Elements of the Kauaʻi GNP were innovative at the time, but some were lost in the transformation to a statewide law; other provisions now lag behind regulations in other states. The evaluation includes a list of recommendations for how Hawaiʻi might again become a leader among states in finding a balance that considers the “right to farm,” regulatory requirements that consider differences in scale among producers, and a community’s interest in knowing what restricted use pesticides are being used where they live and work.

Additional background: In December 2013, HDOA launched the Kauaʻi Good Neighbor Program in response to the debate concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticides. The voluntary program established standards and guidelines for restricted use pesticides related to notification in advance of pesticide application, buffers in certain areas where pesticides are applied, and post-application reporting about the types and amounts of pesticides used.

Act 45: In 2018, the Hawaiʻi Legislature passed Act 45, which requires those who use restricted use pesticides to report their use to HDOA at the end of each calendar year. HDOA must produce a summary, by county, of RUP usage and make that information available for public review.

2015 Evaluation: The EMC conducted an evaluation of the GNP in 2015, which is available here.