Ag Committee Hearing a Success: Meeting With Sen. Ruderman

The state's Committee on Agriculture hearing was this week, and they approved the governor's nominating me for a second term on the Board of Agriculture. It was a unanimous vote. The next step is that the nomination will go to the full Senate.

I told the committee that my role on the board will be to encourage food security, which involves farmers making money, and if the farmers make money the farmers will farm. There are two parts to that, I said: lowering the farmers' costs, and lowering the farmers' customers' costs. I said that energy and agriculture are inextricably tied together, and that we have natural resources that can lower farmers' costs as well as farmers' customers' costs.

Also, Senator Ruderman asked to meet with me this week, and we had a good talk. He apologized for his choice of words, and I accepted his apology. I told him I understand, and that these things happen and I didn't take it personally.

He said, "I'm still buying your tomatoes, you know," meaning for his natural foods stores. I told him, "I know."

He was under the mistaken impression that I am anti-organic, and I told him that by no stretch of the imagination am I anti-organic. I think we need all farmers as we go into our uncertain future and try to feed everybody. I told him I would be an advocate for organic farmers on this board, actually.

He told me if I grew organic tomatoes, he'd pay me more for them, and I said I would look into it.

We discussed that we should be talking with each other more, to seek common ground, and I told him I'm more than happy to do that. I think we can start to have a civil conversation, respect each other and try to figure out where we want to take the Big Island in the future.

After we talked, I said, "So, you going to still buy my tomatoes or what?" We had a good laugh. It was a good meeting and I was happy with it.

I always come back to the most important thing we need to take into the future is the spirit of aloha. I feel that very strongly.