HONOLULU, Hawai‘i - This past session, the Legislature appropriated $31.5 million to the Agribusiness Development Corporation for the purchase of 895 acres of agricultural land in Central Oahu. Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz (Dist. 22 - Mililani Mauka, Waipi‘o Acres, Wheeler, Wahiawa, Whitmore Village, portion of Poamoho), Vice Chair of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, was instrumental in building support for the funds to be included in the state budget.

Governor David Ige recently signed the release of the $31.5 million. When the acquisition is completed, these lands along with other parcels pending transaction, will increase the farmable acreage in the Whitmore Project from the initial 1,200 acres to over 2,800 acres.

Since Dole Food Company Inc. in 2012 announced its plans to sell nearly 18,000 acres of land in Central Oahu and on the North Shore, Sen. Dela Cruz has aggressively worked to ensure that the state acquires additional lands near the 1,200 acres. Neighboring state properties also include facilities in Wahiawa town and former Dole warehouses in Whitmore Village that will be retrofitted for processing and packaging.

"Under ADC's management, these lands will be protected in perpetuity for farming," said Sen. Dela Cruz. "Access to good farmland is needed to help farmers scale up their crop production which decreases our reliance on imported foods."

The Governor recently announced his plans to double local food production. According to the Increased Food Security and Food Self-Sufficiency Strategy report, replacing just 10% of the food Hawai‘i currently imports would amount to approximately $313 million remaining in the state. The report further states that more public land is needed for commercial agricultural purposes. Land acquisitions such as this 895-acre purchase are in line with industry recommendations.

A recent summer harvest by Sugarland Farms, a tenant of the Whitmore Project, produced an estimated 2.7 million pounds of watermelon and 750,000 pounds of bell pepper. Crops were sold for local consumption, helping to replace imported products. The harvest of two different crops on adjacent parcels are examples of diversified agriculture in the Central Oahu region.

Other components of the Whitmore Project that have either been completed or are currently being worked on include an ag-foreign trade zone to defer duties on imported materials, tax incentives through the re-designation and expansion of Enterprise Zone No.1, creation of an agribusiness technology park to consolidate processing and packaging facilities, construction of workforce housing for farm employees, establishment of K-12 workforce training, and reclaiming wastewater for irrigation from the Wahiawa Wastewater Treatment Plant.

As the report indicates, Hawai‘i's farmers need more land. Acquiring the 895 acres to expand the agricultural footprint of the Whitmore Project not only preserves farmlands, but ensures farmers have access to public leases. The state's participation to support the agriculture industry is critical towards food self-sufficiency.

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The Whitmore Project is a detailed plan to revitalize our local agriculture industry by bringing farmers and the state together to increase local food production, create jobs, engage in partnerships, and provide workforce housing. For more information on the Whitmore Project, please visit and click on The Whitmore Project under the Documents and Links section on Senator Donovan Dela Cruz's member page.

HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Senator Will Espero expressed his support for the aerospace industry during his welcoming remarks at the 2016 Hawaii Aerospace Summit being held at the State Capitol.

Sen. Espero (Dist. 19 - ‘Ewa Beach, Ocean Pointe, ‘Ewa by Gentry, Iroquois Point, portion of ‘Ewa Villages) has long been an advocate for growing the aerospace industry in Hawai‘i and has introduced legislation to support programs throughout the state. While notable advancements have been made in this sector of the economy, Sen. Espero called on the private sector to collaborate with government to help Hawai‘i become a major international player in the aerospace industry.

Espero said he envisions a number of areas where Hawai‘i could enhance its aerospace industry: space tourism, robotics and unmanned aerial systems, also known as drones.

“There are so many applications for UAS. There’s mapping, traffic control, the agricultural industry, fisheries, film, fire-fighting, even crime-fighting. We can also be at the forefront of manufacturing,” said Sen. Espero. “This is an area in which we need to invest and must not let this opportunity go by.”

The Hawai‘i Aerospace Summit is held during Aerospace in Hawai‘i Week – part of World Space Week being celebrated in over seventy countries during the first week of October. The Summit brings together representatives from Hawai‘i’s government, education and business sectors, along with delegates from aerospace agencies and corporations nationwide to help expand and diversify Hawai‘i’s economy and enhance the State’s leadership role in the global aerospace industry.

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HONOLULU, Hawai‘i – Twenty-eight very excited first graders gathered in the classroom of Linapuni

Elementary School this morning to receive a special gift from State Senator Donna Mercado Kim.

Although they’ve been back in the classroom for over a month, the colorful sackpacks filled with school supplies the students received today from Sen. Kim will help them learn throughout the year.

“It’s such a joy to see their smiles and get their hugs. They were so happy to receive these basic school tools,” said Sen. Kim (Dist. 14 – Kapalama, ‘Alewa, Kalihi Valley, Ft. Shafter, Moanalua Gardens & Valley, portions of Halawa and ‘Aiea). “It seems like such a small gesture, but it means so much to them and gives them something to be proud of. It warms my heart to be able to do something to help them succeed.”

Linapuni Elementary School provides early childhood education from Pre-K to Grade 1. It has a current enrollment of 200 students and serves the residents of Kuhio Homes and the Towers of Kuhio. Every student at Linapuni receives free and reduced lunch assistance making it the school with the highest number of students in the state enrolled in the federal assisted meal program.

“At Linapuni, we want to build a foundation where the kids love school, so these sackpacks just reinforces our message to them that school is important and they are important. Senator Kim’s visit today shows our kids the community believes they are important, too,” said Principal Cindy Sunahara.

As a member of the National Foundation for Women Legislators (NFWL), Sen. Kim was selected to receive the donation of school supplies as part of an NFWL partnership with the Office Depot Foundation. In addition to Linapuni Elementary, Sen. Kim chose to assist students at Ka‘ewai Elementary and Kalihi Waena Elementary.

All of these schools are among the O‘ahu campuses with the highest number of students who come from low-income families and have a large percentage of students receiving free or reduced-cost school lunches.

This is the 11th year of the partnership with the NFWL and the 16th year of the National Backpack Program. This year, the Office Depot Foundation will provide the National Foundation for Women Legislators with sackpacks for distribution by women elected officials in approximately 25 states.

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