We're setting the record straight about the misrepresentations you may have heard about Hawaii Dairy Farms - including our farm plans, our farm manager and our Draft EIS.
Continuously Improving Our Plan
We sought input from the State Department of Health, as well as the community, to help us further design our plans. As we listened to the feedback we received and the questions we heard, we decided to voluntarily prepare an Environmental Impact Statement as the highest level of environmental scrutiny of the project.
We collected a vast amount of data and learned a great deal through the process of preparing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Throughout this journey, we believe that we have made significant improvements in the project from the initial project proposal. The process continues with public comments on the Draft EIS being accepted through July 25.
The good news is that the process works. We have applied the input from the regulators and the community, and we are more confident than ever that Hawaii Dairy Farms is an excellent project that will benefit Kauai, contribute to greater self-sufficiency for Hawaii and, above all, not harm the environment. We thank the community for continuing to help us improve our plans.
NPDES Stormwater Permit and Irrigation
Hawaii Dairy Farms has always been transparent that we installed irrigation on the farm to allow us to cultivate grass for our pasture. To fulfill our promise to hold off on construction until after the EIS has been accepted, we have not yet installed the remaining irrigation system, fencing or any of the dairy facilities. Since 2014 the only activities on the site have been farming grass, some minor grazing by neighboring beef cattle, and maintenance.
It is unfortunate that a handful of activists are attacking our farm manager, Jim Garmatz, based on an excerpt of his deposition testimony in response to a misleading question. The technical document Jim was asked about referred only to one phase of the dairy project. Everything in the document is correct. Asserting that it is wrong merely because the document does not discuss all phases of the project is misleading and incorrect.
Animal Waste Management Plan Update
Preparing and updating an animal waste management plan is a typical function of a farm. Just like operations of the farm that will change and improve over time, the document will be updated periodically to reflect those changes and optimize operational safety. The Department of Health monitors farm operations to ensure regulatory compliance and reviews any updates to operational procedures.
It is important to note that the animal waste management plan is a technical document that is not part of the EIS or subject to public review and comment. However, all of the nutrient information is addressed in the EIS as part of the Nutrient Balance Analysis.
Committed Herd Size
Hawaii Dairy Farms has committed to having no more than 699 mature dairy cows on our farm at any given time. Regulatory rules allow for calves to be raised on the farm for a short while until they are mature enough to be transferred offsite to grow into milking cows. These calves are not included in the 699-herd size because they stay on the farm only for about 90 days. As cows are resting between lactation they are rotated off the farm to graze for several months at nearby ranches. These resting cows are replaced with cows that are close to giving birth and the cycle continues. Periodically, cows that are no longer producing milk will be removed from the herd and sold to local ranchers.
Bringing Our Cows to Kauai
Happy and healthy cows produce high-quality, nutritious milk and are critical for the successful operation of the farm. Once everything is ready at the farm site, the cows will arrive on Kauai spaced out in groups of 150 young heifers every three weeks until the full herd has arrived. They will not be bred until after they have gone through quarantine, acclimated to life on the island, and grown to the ideal weight.
Breeding the heifers over time allows for the farm to grow slowly and ensures safe care and handling of the dairy cows and their calves. It will take significant time to bring the entire herd into milking. We believe that the time devoted to ensure the farm operations begin smoothly is essential for the health of the cows, the dairy, and the surrounding environment.
When Hawaii Dairy Farms is in operation, there will be approximately 11 direct and indirect full-time jobs on Kauai, including five farm jobs and six indirect jobs providing services to the farm. There would be an additional three jobs on Oahu for processing.
During construction, we anticipate there will be 36 direct and indirect jobs on Kauai to help build the farm facilities.
Contributing to Food Security
On average, a person consumes 20 gallons of milk per year. With the committed herd size of 699 milking cows, Hawaii Dairy Farms will produce 1.2 million gallons of milk per year, which is enough to meet the needs of approximately 60,000 people, or nearly the entire population of Kauai. The milk will be distributed statewide as part of our commitment to providing fresh, nutritious milk for Hawaii’s families.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement confirms that flies and odor will not affect residential, resort or recreational areas. It is critical that we keep flies from becoming a problem on the farm and in surrounding areas to avoid irritating our cows and our neighbors. Hawaii Dairy Farms will use an integrated pest management plan to minimize flies in the area.
Hawaii Dairy Farms uses grass as a natural filter to capture nutrients from the manure and keep them on the farm as natural fertilizer to grow the grass and improve soil quality. This topic was studied and covered extensively in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which found that the farm will retain roughly 98 percent of these nutrients in the pasture.
During heavy rainfall events calculated to average 10 days annually, a modest amount of nutrients – not bacteria or enterococci – could be discharged to surface ditches, which could potentially be carried to the nearshore marine environment. The data shows that nutrients would dissipate quickly due to the vigorous wave and wind action of the ocean, and will not impact the marine environment.
Preventing Groundwater Impacts
In consultation with the Kauai Department of Water, Hawaii Dairy Farms hired an expert water consultant to conduct four different tests to establish and confirm that the aquifer that provides drinking water will not be impacted by any operations on the farm. In addition, Hawaii Dairy Farms voluntarily added a 1,000-foot buffer from the Koloa F Drinking Water Well as an additional safety measure.
Our Experienced Consultants
Group 70 International, Inc. is responsible for the preparation and processing of the Hawaii Dairy Farms Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS was prepared in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 343 Hawaii Revised Statutes and the “Environmental Impact Statement Rules” (Chapter 200 of Title 11, Hawaii Administrative Rules).
The environmental planning team at Group 70 has prepared several hundred Environmental Assessment and EIS documents over the past 40 years, and every document has been accepted by the responsible County, State, and Federal agency. On numerous past EIS projects, the Hawaii Chapter of the American Planning Association has recognized Group 70’s professional work with Chapter awards for excellence in environmental planning.
Part of the EIS scoping process involves Group 70’s experienced team of technical sub-consultants that are well-known and qualified in the Dairy Farm’s EIS with the level of analysis required to properly evaluate and disclose the existing environmental conditions, probable impacts with mitigation, and potential cumulative and secondary effects.