HILO, HI, Nov 19, 2010 -- 4 Ag Hawaii, will receive $250,000 to provide a "Best Practices" model for other rural communities that will address local and regional food systems, energy conservation, access to capital in rural communities and the innovative use of natural resources.
Focused on improved Food Security through Sustainable Development of Hawaii's Cattle Industry, the funding is provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.
"Cattlemen have a long and proud history in Hawaii and investing in a sustainable future for this industry is vital to the economic health of our food supply," said Senator Daniel Inouye. "By preserving and protecting our livestock and by developing business models to expand and better utilize resources we inch closer to the day when we will not need to rely on food supply chains based overseas."
Hawaii has the most fragile food security in the country – importing 85% of its food supply compared to states on the continental mainland which average 15%. If Hawaii replaced just 10% of food imports with locally grown and processed foods, it would:
• Generate approximately $94 million for local farmers;
• Provide an economic impact of $188 million in sales;
• Create 2,300 jobs.
"We are very excited about funding this project by 4 Ag Hawaii. The importance of this work is not just about sustainability of the cattle industry, but the role the industry can play in Hawaii's food security, job creation and retention and sound stewardship of our land and water resources," said Chris Kanazawa, State Director of USDA Rural Development, Hawaii State Office
"Hawaii is at the forefront of responsible agricultural development. Improving Food Security through sustainable development of the cattle industry is an integral component. Thanks to USDA Rural Development this initiative will provide a model for other rural communities throughout the nation seeking to address local and regional food systems; energy conservation as well as innovative uses of their natural resources," said Monty Richards and Susan Matsushima of 4 Ag Hawaii.
Additionally, if the supply of locally produced beef could double, and the demand is there, the impact on the economy would be an increase of $9.64 million in revenues.
Through effectively managing approximately one-quarter of the State's land area, cattle ranches provide corollary benefits for the State of Hawaii such as sound environmental stewardship of the land which in turn provides valued ecosystems to surrounding communities today and protects the land and water for our future generations.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of 6,100 employees located in 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees. More information about USDA Rural Development can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
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