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10 Reasons why local agricultural products are not purchased by the State of Hawaii!

 Why is the system not working…Well there are many factors and it’s not the law!

House Bil 2432 seeks to exempt Hawaii grown agriculture goods from the procurement system.

The law is not the problem!

In 2009 we helped pass a bill that became known as ACT 175 providing a price preference for Hawaii grown agricultural products and provided  they could be purchased with the States procurement system to allow agricultural producers to  benefit from any State or Federal procurement preference.

10 Reasons Why the System isn’t working!

  1.  The Procurement system is very complicated, the forms are significant and the process is confusing.
  2. Multiple procurement lists exist in Hawaii including the electronic procurement system; but there are non electronic lists as it’s not mandatory to use the electronic system; each agencies chooses their method which means each vendor or producer must register with each list!
  3. Education, Lack of training for the industry and the departments on how to actually purchase & supply locally grown goods.
  4. After Act 175 was enacted the Procurement Office abolished the Hawaiian Grown provider list; removed all current vendors from the list with NO warning!
  5. Lack of a  source list for Hawaiian Grown products.
  6. The window to submit a bid is very short and this is why we need training so our farmers are better prepared and widening the window will help.  Longer time frame to submit or pre-bid meetings and planning.
  7. Scope of the bid is too large.  Narrow it to a few schools or region……..yes, it will mean more paperwork for the procurement office but if goal is to increase locally grown, isn’t that a way the system can help make this happen?
  8. Policies take years to implement. The small business preference was passed in 2005! The policies were only beginning to be written in 2009 and started implementation in 2010!!
  9. Communication — if the state is serious about buying local, work with us to make it happen; If we are wrong about meeting other procurement requirements, show us.  We can change but we need to understand.  At one time, the procurement officer told us local purchase preferences made no sense since we were exempted.  So if thatwas true, why are we now being told we should be exempt.
  10. ACE….Asses, Communicate & Educate= ACE!! If you have no idea where you’re at, then you have no idea how to plan! Communication is critical for industries to succeed in Hawaii and Educate; educate the procurement officers, the ag producers and the industry!

We understand why the system isn’t working, what we don’t understand is why we cant work together to make this work!

How can we fix this?

  1. ACE….Asses, Communicate & Educate= ACE!! If you have no idea where your at, then you have no idea how to plan! Communication is critical for industries to succeed in Hawaii and Educate; educate the procurement officers, the ag producers and the industry!
  2.  Even our largest growers will have difficulty meeting the needs; implement contracts that work for Hawaii!
  3. Create models for procuring goods using fair practices and creative contracts.
  4. Understand this is a process.  If the system is understood and farmers know they can meet the price points, they can grow to meet the market.  So they may not qualify now but could in another year or two.
  5. Communication — if the state is serious about buying local, work with us to make it happen; If we are wrong about meeting other procurement requirements, show us.  We can change but we need to understand.  At one time, the procurement officer told us local purchase preferences made no sense since we were exempted.  So if that were true, why are we now being told we should be exempted?
  6. DO not change the LAW….NO preference is available if you exempt the product this includes minority owned, small business and any others that exists both at a State level or Federal.
  7. Fix the lack of data made available by the State procurement office; this lack of data on local purchases is fixable.
  8. DO NOT EXEMPT local ag products….If we go back to the exemption; nothing protects our producers for fair purchasing; they will be dependent on local relationships with every facility & each purchaser to buy their goods.

The issue is complicated and it takes time but we can’t change the law because we have failed to educate and find a process that works for Hawaii.

BIFB TESTIMONY on HB 2432  for 02.02.2012

ACT 175 as enacted in 2009


Below is Big Islands Farm Bureau testimony on HB 2432





Hearing: Friday February 03, 2012 @ 8:00AM

Conference Room 312


Rep. Tsuji Chair, Committee on Agriculture

Rep. McKelvey, Chair, Committee on Economic Revitalization & Business


Aloha Chairperson’s and Committee Members


We STRONGLY OPPPOSE HB2432 Relating to Procurement and ask that you kill this bill today with no amendments to the administrative rules.

My name is Lorie Farrell; I am the Executive Director for the Big Island Farm Bureau (BIFB); We are the   largest general agriculture organization on Hawaii Island; striving to be the Voice of Agriculture and       represent over 600 agricultural members & producers on the Island of Hawaii.

We are unique in representing   all agricultural commodities & utilize our diverse membership base to   direct our policies. The Big Island Farm Bureau is comprised of the individual farm bureau chapters on  the Big Island and we are directly related to the Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation and affiliated with the  American Farm Bureau Federation.

BIFB Strongly Opposes any change to the Procurement code that removes the preference for Hawaiian Grown agricultural products and/or exempts Hawaiian agricultural commodities from the Procurement system.

We strongly support increased use of locally grown agricultural products, fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and poultry products in our schools and other public institutions. This will truly be a significant step towards increasing our levels of self- sufficiency if we can overcome the obstacles involved in the procurement system!

In 2009 the State enacted ACT 175; giving Hawaiian agricultural products a price preference and removing the exemption. BIFB was a key participant in that process our farmers and agriculture producers knew the system was broke and unfortunately it still is; the law is not flawed, nor is the preference; it’s the administrative implementation and education about the Hawaii procurement system that is the real obstacle.

If you modify the Hawaii Administrative Rules that are requested in this the bill, our agricultural producers will not be able to take advantage of any price preference for bidding purposes or have a competitive advantage because agricultural products will be exempt from the procurement code. The goods must be purchased using procurement procedures for any preference to apply.  This includes the small business preference rule that permits an agency to identify certain contracts for competition among small businesses or requires a large business to subcontract with small businesses to provide the products; this Act passed years before Act 175 in 2009 and it took the administration years to implement the polices. If it takes years to implement any type of preference; how can anyone say ACT 175 doesn’t work? The process & polices are in their infancy and have not been fully implemented.  This preference helps cultivate a leveler playing field and creates additional market opportunities for Hawaii’s farmers and small businesses; shouldn’t we all support and facilitate the use of such preferences to retain as much money in Hawaii for Hawaii?

Any preference for Hawaii agricultural products provided by statute; provides no benefit to agricultural producers,…unless the administrative rules remain UN-changed….

Hawaii cannot exempt its locally grown agriculture products from the procurement guidelines without risking Federal reimbursement and losing any preference available under the State & Federal Procurement system.  Locally grown agricultural products, beef, dairy, fruits and vegetable’s MUST be purchased using the procurement system to receive any benefits, protection or preferences under HRS and administrative rules.

The state says, “We support local farmers.” Farmers think, “It’s not what you say; it’s what you do and what you purchase.” Farmers shake their heads; as an industry we know that the more fresh vegetables we import; the more inspectors we need and the higher the risk of invasive species.  We have more endangered species in Hawai‘i than in the rest of the United States and on average we import 100 new invasive species each year to Hawaii with a few diseases thrown in to make it worse.

Our farmers and ranchers have tried to work with the procurement system and can speak to the shortcomings of the system. Focus now should be on working with the procurement system to make it a reasonable process for Hawaii’s agriculture producers to navigate.

Assistance to farmers on how to travel through the system should be a priority. HFBF supports a program that partners with the State Procurement Office to develop programs that work for Hawaii and training sessions for farmers and ranchers to enter the system. We have farmers and ranchers that our ready NOW and have been ready; but they need to understand the opportunity, the system and identify crops that can be grown and produced at the fair prices.

Our Keiki & Students want fresh salads, local fruits, vegetables and other local options. The demand exists. We respectfully ask that you kill this bill today and help us request that State procurement Office work together with Hawaii’s agricultural producers to provide training classes to enter into this complicated system.


Thank you for this opportunity to address this important issue. If there are any questions,

Please contact me via email or phone at (808)557-2780 or 885-8015.


Lorie Farrell


Hawaii’s Legislative Process

We know it’s a daunting task to monitor new bills…Every year the Hawaii Farm Bureau, its volunteers, staff and County  & district leaders, volunteer thousands of hours to read, monitor and testify on behalf of agriculture in Hawaii….Just one of the huge services that the Farm Bureau provides to its members. Big Island Farm Bureau contributes approximately 300 hours each session to this process. This year it is my intention to expand our voice, and distribute  the information further and in a manner we haven’t tried before;  We’ve gone social!

Soon I will have a synopsis on the bills that will impact Hawaii Island and the State…Sorry the bills are still being read and classified; were talking on average we read and compile between 3000 & 4000 bills or pieces of legislation, some are 1 page and some feel like their 100 pages of regulations!

I need your input and stories on….Ag theft, regulations…Any thing that can help tell us how it affects the producer is important.  We wont necessarily ask you to testify before the House or Senate but on some occasions it is needed….Help me, help you. Give us your thoughts, stories and whatever your experience is on the bills that impact you.

Until then I thought you might be interested in the changes that have happened at the State Website…All for the better! Yay to Hawaii for being progressive and helpful in this process..Kudos to all involved.

If you’re a beginner to the legislative process I recommend that you begin with this handy-dandy guide…Same place I did many years ago only we couldn’t read it online.

Yesterday was the bill cutoff deadline…Today is the first recess but that does not mean that work isn’t happening. Things are a feverish pace for the next several weeks as we strive to keep our heads above the tidal wave of bills….


Here are some of the key features of the Capitol website.


Testimony.  Beginning this session, Senate hearing notices will no longer list specific information on Senate testimony policies and procedures.  This information has been replaced with a link that will take users that access hearing notices electronically to the Legislature’s website, where policies and procedures are outlined.  This information is also displayed wherever hearing notices are posted within the Capitol building for users that view printed hearing notices.  Copies of this informational sheet are also available in the Legislative Reference Bureau’s Public Access Room, located at the State Capitol building, to members of the public who are interested in learning how to submit testimony to Senate committees.

Testimony procedures have remained largely unchanged; members of the public can still submit testimony in the same ways – using the Legislature’s website, Senate committee e-mails or fax, or hand-delivering copies to the committee clerks.

The most notable change in Senate procedures is that the deadline to submit testimony to Senate committees has been changed from 4:00pm of the day prior to the hearing to 24 hours prior to the hearing.  Testimony received after the 24 hour deadline may be considered late, and may not be posted online prior to the hearing or otherwise made available during the hearing.


Website.  The Hawaii State Legislature‘s website is the key portal for those wishing to get informed and involved in the legislative process.  The website was recently redesigned to enhance citizen engagement and includes:

  • Contact information for current members of the Senate and House of Representatives
  • Bill and resolution text and current status information
  • List of upcoming committee hearings
  • Daily downloads of bills, resolutions, committee reports, and other documents
  • Online testimony submittal
  • Downloadable bill status reports (i.e., all bills or resolutions introduced, bills signed into law, all committee reports filed, etc.)


You can also create an account with the Legislature and as a registered user, you can track your own personalized list of bills and get e-mail notifications for legislative committee hearings.Create an Account

I recommend creating an account and placing the bills in your own list. Although I will be posting our lists and RSS feeds soon. The system is user-friendly and easy to navigate. By placing bills in your own list you can generate a report that shows their status and all information in a brief format that is easy to read.


Video Streams

The Legislature will continue streaming selected committee hearings live over the Internet.  A new feature this session will be live streams of the daily House and Senate floor sessions, beginning with today’s opening day sessions in both chambers.  Links to the live and archived audio and video streams are accessible from the website.


Thank you for your interest and participation in the legislative process.  If you have any questions and concerns, please contact the Senate Clerk’s office at             (808) 586-6720       or by email at

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