National Farmers Union Logo

Welcome to the
Hawai‘i Farmers Union

We are the newest subdivision of the National Farmers Union,
 established 1902. See also the California Farmers Union.

Email: hawaiifarmersunion@gmail.com

waipio taro

Policy of the National Farmers Union
Enacted by delegates to the 107th anniversary convention
Washington, D.C.
March 8-10, 2009

(available online from www.hawaiifarmersunion.org and www.nfu.org)

from p. 2-4

PREAMBLE

We, the members of the National Farmers Union, in the following policy statement, strive to articulate the fundamental principles of a food, fiber and energy policy essential to our nation and today’s world. This issue transcends every social, economic, environmental and geographic boundary of our planet.

The goal of the National Farmers Union is to protect and enhance the economic wellbeing and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers, fishers and their rural communities.

Our experience as family farmers, ranchers, fishers and those concerned with the survival of productive family-oriented agriculture provide us with a unique and qualified perspective to make meaningful contributions to this issue.

The Farmers Union symbol, a triangle constructed with education at its base and completed with cooperation and legislation on its sides, represents a structure that takes on more importance than ever before. Education is not only for our youth, but for adults, families and our seniors. It affords us the opportunity to share and learn from both young and old.

The educational process must extend beyond our farms and reach out to our urban brothers and sisters, as well as across borders and oceans. Sharing information is important, but sharing our values, concerns and spirit is of greater significance.

The goals of Farmers Union have grown out of our understanding of God, nature, and the love of our country, with respect for the past and vision for the future. Our goals are nourished through the truth and rightness of the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and its Bill of Rights. We affirm our faith in a benevolent God, whose grace has bestowed upon us immensely fertile resources, and whose justice demands stewardship.

Woven throughout this document is a sense of moral and ethical values that farmers embrace as they assume the responsibilities that are part of every acre drop of water, animal, plant or any of the multitude of resources entrusted to We are also very cognizant of the need to extend beyond our fence rows and ensure these gifts are shared and not exploited or wasted.

We recognize the invaluable contributions of stewardship and expertise offered by indigenous people and multigenerational farmers as well as all farmers who perpetuate historically-rooted and traditional approaches to farming and fishing.*

The family farm system of agricultural production can provide opportunities individual enterprise to all families in our society. This system achieves economic social stability, as well as soil, water and environmental stewardship of our natural resources and unparalleled production efficiency. We cannot change or improve but will proactively advance, with a strong vision for the future, the best interests today’s family-oriented agriculture.

The loss of family farms and other independently owned businesses is not inevitable.  We believe the accelerated march toward a vertically integrated production system reversed. This requires action to enforce and enhance antitrust and competition strengthen the regulatory system and revitalize independently owned businesses competitive markets.

Parity is the cornerstone of our policy. Our definition of parity expands beyond simple economic definition. We believe that it should encompass a sense of not only diminishes hunger, but also fosters peace and justice.

We remain wholly dedicated to the strengthening of the family farm system farmer cooperatives. The essence of the cooperative movement — farmers working together for their mutual benefit — is the spirit that motivates Farmers Union activity. We view attempts to restrict farmer-owned-and-controlled cooperatives as an assault on farmers themselves, and we will vigorously defend the Capper-Volstead Act. Family farmers have a valuable tool in working together in farmer-owned-and-controlled cooperatives. They are essential to our economic well-being and success.

Cooperation also comes from knowledge as well as respect for other people and cultures. Our spirit of cooperation must continue to grow and not have limits. Our challenge is to take this knowledge and spirit and incorporate it into meaningful policy through legislation on local, state and national levels. This document is not a collection of words, but an anthology of the spirit of the hundreds of thousands of family farmers, ranchers and advocates that make up our organization. We dedicate this document, along with our energy and efforts, to bring about long-term meaningful policy that identifies our common thread and utilizes that energy for the common good.

* Offered in 2009 by Hawaii Farmers Union

from p. 44-48

11. National Organic Standards

National Farmers Union recognizes the growing importance of organic family farming. Organic farming is a management-intensive technology, not merely a list of acceptable or prohibited materials, designed to achieve a balance in the agricultural and livestock system similar to that found in natural systems.

We support:

  1. The enforcement and monitoring of the national organic standards promulgated by USDA;

  2. Maintaining and protecting the integrity of organic labeling;

  3. Labeling standards encouraging the sale of organic products while not limiting opportunities to market other natural or sustainably produced food products;

  4. Ensuring accreditation and certification costs do not discriminate against small producers;

  5. Requiring USDA to maintain the role of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) as the official source of developing policies and procedures to interpret and implement the federal organic standards. Adequate staffing must be provided to enable the NOSB to fulfill its obligation to organic producers;

  6. Maintaining organic livestock production standards that are uniform and account for feeding and animal health care practices for continuous or transitional organic management;

  7. Prohibiting genetically modified organisms, irradiation and the use of sewage sludge that contains heavy metals;

  8. Protecting organic producers from chemical and/or genetic pollution and provide reasonable redress for any damage caused by this drift; and

  9. Updating National Organic Program (NOP) standards to fully comply with the European Union (EU) and Japan Agricultural Standards (JAS) to allow U.S. organic farmers to market their production without having to certify through multiple international agencies.

12. Genetically Modified Organisms and Biotechnology

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have created a series of ethical, environmental, food safety, legal, market and structural issues that impact everyone in the food chain. Consumer and producer concerns need to be addressed. We acknowledge concerns that biotechnology is being used as a trade barrier. We respect all nations’ sovereignty and food policies and thus urge open dialogue, cooperation and understanding in trade negotiations relating to biotechnology. We support:

  1. A moratorium on the patenting and licensing of new transgenic animals and plants developed through genetic engineering until the broader legal, ethical and economic questions are resolved. The moratorium should include the introduction, certification and commercialization of genetically engineered crops, including all classes of wheat, until issues of cross-pollination, liability, commodity and seed stock segregation and market acceptance are adequately addressed. Research conducted in an environmentally secure facility should be exempt from this moratorium. Research conducted in open fields production should be subject to mandatory public disclosure of; persons or entities initiating the research, location of test sites, specific species and traits involved and the characteristics of the intended resultant genetically modified plant to be created*. Should commercialization of a new GMO become imminent, we encourage the appropriate regulatory authority to provide for a public input and review process, including production of economic and environmental impact analysis prior to commercialization;

  2. Legislation to exempt farmers from paying royalties on patented farm animals and technical fees on seeds which have been genetically modified;

  3. Legislation to prohibit the patenting of heritage seed, animal and biological genetics;

  4. Legislation to prohibit the further use of tax dollars in developing terminator technology, e.g., a gene to ensure that seed will not reproduce;

  5. Legislation to prohibit the development and selling of seed that is sterile;

  6. The right of farmers to plant seed derived from proprietary organisms on their own land;

  7. New products involving GMOs be certified as safe by the FDA in testing done independently of the patent holder, before being allowed on the market. Such testing is to be done at the expense of the specific patent holders seeking to market such products;

  8. Legislation requiring that patent holders or owners of GMO technology be held strictly liable for damages caused by genetic trespass including safety, health, economic and environmental effects. Farmers are not to be held liable for food safety, human health or environmental problems, including cross pollination, related to the use of GMOs as long as generally accepted crop production practices are followed;

  9. Congressional action to regulate the biotech industry’s technology agreements. Farmers should not have to sign away their fundamental rights, including, but not limited to a jury of their peers in court, in exchange for the privilege of growing biotech crops. Grievances should be settled in the home state of the farmer, not the state of the biotech corporation;

  10. Any damages caused to farmers through lower prices, lost markets or contamination shall be fully reimbursed to farmers, including legal fees, by the company producing the genetically modified product;

  11. All data used in the analysis of the health and environmental effects of GMOs be public record, and that criminal penalties be established for the willful withholding or altering of such data;

  12. Prohibiting government regulatory agencies from licensing genetically modified products that are not acceptable for both human consumption and animal feed;

  13. Until USDA and FDA improve oversight and regulation of pharma crops, NFU cannot endorse or support pharma farming based on economic, environmental, food safety and liability risks to producers and consumers;

  14. Requiring government regulatory agencies and input suppliers to ensure that farmers are informed of all potential market risks and segregation requirements associated with planting any licensed genetically modified crop;

  15. Government regulatory agencies shall consider domestic and foreign consumer acceptance of the product when licensing;

  16. Requiring all GMO seed to be clearly labeled with the following information:

    1. Markets (foreign or domestic) where the product is not accepted, and

    2. All planting restrictions;

  17. Development of a paper verification system and a storage and marketing plan to aid farmers with non-GMO grains; Identity-preserved systems and insist they receive protection from cross contamination; and

  18. Requiring genetically altered or engineered food products to be appropriately labeled to inform consumers. Food products derived from cloned animals should be labeled at the retail level.

*offered by Hawaii Farmers Union in 2008.

from p. 55

D. Sustainable Working Waterfronts

Access and conservative harvest practices are essential to fishery dependent coastal communities and active working waterfronts. NFU supports:

  1. Promotion of sustainable, local seafood production;

  2. Equitable access for community-based fishing fleets;

  3. Competitive markets; and

  4. Safeguarding opportunities for future generations of independent fishing families.

from p. 107

Z. Marine Aquaculture (new in 2009)

The development of industrial-scale offshore finfish aquaculture is detrimental to the family fishers and local economies of historic fishing communities. It should not be allowed to proceed unless and until there is national legislation in place that ensures it can be conducted without harming marine ecosystems and coastal fishing communities.

We oppose:

  1. Promotion of offshore aquaculture operations that displace or endanger traditional fishing practices and onshore infrastructure;

  2. Inefficient use of marine resources as feed within such operations;

  3. Federal subsidies to promote, sustain or further develop such operations; and

  4. Marine fishing operations that are not community-based and do not contribute to the promotion of locally and sustainably caught wild seafood.