Richard Ha has scratched plans to preserve nearly half of his farm, choosing instead to prepare it for the possibility of future development.
The owner of the 600-acre Hamakua Springs farm announced the decision on his blog, declaring it’s in response to the signing of Bill 113, which limits the use of genetically modified crops on the Big Island.
He previously applied with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to preserve 264 acres of his farm for agriculture in perpetuity. Instead, he said he plans to subdivide the property. It wouldn’t be developed, Ha said, unless he sells it.
“In case I need to sell it, I will be able to sell it,” he said.
Ha was one of the major critics of the bill, believing it will hurt agriculture on the island.
“It’s uncertain what our future is going to look like,” he said when asked about the connection to the legislation.
“Two years ago, when I started, we were all enthusiastic about the future of agriculture in Hawaii,” Ha added.
“Because of this … whether they are going to continue is unclear.”
Ha does not grow modified crops on his farm, and defended the decision when questioned about why the bill would change his mind.
“It’s not about me,” he said, referring to future farmers. “We’re not talking about me anymore.
“I pretty much did what I needed to do.”
When asked why not still preserve the land for future farming, Ha said before ending the interview: “Why would I want to? Why would I want to in this atmosphere?”