Re: Nomination to the Board of Agriculture
Dear Mr. Ha:Congratulations on being nominated by Governor Linda Lingle to the Board of Agriculture. To assist the Senate with its confirmation process, I am requesting that the following information be submitted to my office:
A written statement that addresses the following questions:
Why do you wish to be a member of the Board of Agriculture?
I am very interested in food security for Hawaii and I hope to be able to make a contribution toward that goal.
How do you perceive the role and responsibilities of a member of the Board of Agriculture?
I see the role of a member of the Board of Agriculture as making responsible decisions on agriculture matters, taking a broad societal view of things. I specifically see the role as an opportunity to help make Hawaii more food secure.
I am an advocate for all kinds of farmers--large and small, organic and conventional, on all islands, all elevations, wet side and dry. Although we may be considered large farmers, I think it is very dangerous for food security to depend on a few very large farms.
Given your understanding of the role and responsibilities of a member of the Board of Agriculture, why do you believe that you are qualified for the position? Please include a brief statement of your skills, expertise, or knowledge that would aid in your decision-making ability as a member of the Board of Agriculture.
After getting a degree in accounting at the UH, I started growing bananas nearly 30 years ago. We had no money so we traded chicken manure for banana pulapula. Eventually, we became the largest banana grower in the state and bought 600 acres of fee simple land. The things that failed along the way could fill a museum. This experience was very valuable. I have a very high respect for wise old small farmers. And, like them, I try not to talk too much.
What do you hope to accomplish during your term of service?
I hope to bring awareness that Food Security involves farmers farming. And that if farmers make money, then farmers will farm. This is not complicated.
Name three qualities that best describe you and that would make you stand out. How would these qualities benefit the Board of Agriculture?
- I see myself as a bridge between the “shiny shoe” folks and the “rubbah slippah” folks.
- I have the ability to see a desired goal in the future and can stay focused on that goal.
- There are a thousand reasons why no can. I try to look for the one reason why CAN!! Keep it simple, keep it focused and no give up.
Name one previous experience that would make you stand out. How would this benefit the Board of Agriculture?
I helped with the Thirty Meter Telescope decision to site the telescope on Mauna Kea. I was able to talk to folks on all sides of the issue. I learned from Patrick Kahawaiola‘a that the process was most important. I thought that, that being the case, then everyone contributing to the process made for a better final product. That means we need to aloha everyone who contributed input, whether or not we agree with the position.
Two or three years ago, I told Kumu Lehua Veincent, Principal of Keaukaha Elementary School, that the Thirty Meter Telescopes wanted to come to the Big Island. I suggested that as a start we ask them for a good faith offer. I told Kumu, "How about we ask them for five full ride scholarships for Keaukaha kids, to the best schools in the nation?” Kumu looked up at me and simply said: “And what about the rest?” I could feel my ears getting hot. I felt pretty stupid. Indeed, what about the rest.
These two lessons, “the process” and “what about the rest?” are principles I hold very close to me. And I think that this approach will benefit the Board of Agriculture.
Can you foresee any possible conflicts of interests that could arise during your service on the Board of Agriculture? How would you overcome any possible conflicts of interest?
I do not see conflicts of interest at this point. However, I will quickly recuse myself if I do.
Your prompt response in providing the above information will ensure that the Senate confirmation process can proceed in a timely manner. Thank you.Sincerely,
Senator Clayton Hee
Chair, Senate Committee on Water, Land, Agriculture, and Hawaiian Affairs