What the article does not report is that according to the most recent numbers in the Hawaii Data Book, there is a total of 4,112,388 acres of land in the State of Hawaii, of which, 47.99% is designated for Conservation, 46.94% is designated for Agricultural, 4.81% is designated for Urban, and 0.26% is designated for Rural. Of the total acreage in Agriculture reported by the Advertiser and in the Hawaii Data Book, not all of the land is actively farmed because of an over supply of land after the fall of Hawaii's large plantations.
Here are some questions that need to be asked and addressed:
- How much agricultural land does Hawaii need to sustain itself?
- Nearly half the state is classified as agricultural, but how much of that land is actually farmed since the fall of the big plantations in Hawaii?
- Is there an unmet demand for diversified agriculture?
- Is farming in Hawaii economically feasible?
- Will keeping almost half of Hawaii in Agriculture stimulate creation of the kinds of jobs that will stem Hawaii’s brain drain or entice Generation X, et al., back to Hawaii?
- When nearly half of Hawaii was classified as Agricultural, much of the land was not suitable for farming as rated by, for example, the Land Study Bureau, the US Geological Survey, and the University of Hawaii. Is it wise to keep those lands classified as Agricultural?
- Given Hawaii’s unmet housing demand by young professionals, blue collar workers, and the shortage of industrial space, would it be better to have a more balanced land use policy instead of one that has nearly 95 percent of Hawaii’s lands kept from development (the supply of land and burdensome regulations being the primary contributors to housing costs as I discussed here)?