We are working toward creating a lasting agricultural legacy in Hawaii and to make positive strides toward a more sustainable, self-sufficient, and food secure Hawaii through our Agriculture Initiative. The Initiative provides assistance to the owners of working farms, ranches, and forestry lands in Hawaii. We hope to raise awareness among Hawaii’s farmers, ranchers, foresters, landowners, developers, and land use planners and consultants of the viable alternative that agricultural conservation easements can provide and the financial benefits and incentive associated with conservation easements. Through focused outreach to the agricultural industry, we aim to increase the number of working farms and ranches permanently protected through conservation easements in Hawaii.
The Need to Protect Working Farms and Ranches in Hawaii
According to the American Farmland Trust (AFT):
- 40+ acres of farm and ranch land are developed every hour in the U.S.
- Between 1982 and 2010, the United States developed more than 24 million acres of agricultural land – an area the size of the states of Indiana and Rhode Island combined.
- 37% of America’s developed land converted in the last three decades
- 5+ million acres of farm and ranch land permanently protected since AFT’s start
Impacts of the Loss of Farm and Ranch Lands:
- The Food We Eat - As we lose farmland at a rapid rate, we face a future were our ability to feed out families and ourselves is seriously compromised.
- Rural Heritage – Our land is our legacy. Our farms and ranches preserve the rural character of our islands and communities
- Wildlife & Biodiversity – About half of the nation’s protected species use private working lands for 80% or more of their habitat.
- Environmental Quality – The paving over of farmland has long-term negative impacts on clean water and air.
For many farmers, rising real estate values, especially in Hawaii, can lead to tax burdens too high to be supported by agricultural production. The high value of real estate can also provide a disincentive to keep the agricultural land in production, and incentivize the sale of farmlands for residential development, commercial use, or gentlemen estates.
There are a number of ways in which HILT may be able to assist owners of farms and ranches:
- Conservation Easements– Farmers and ranchers that own land with important natural and/or cultural resources can donate a voluntary conservation easement (a conservation agreement) to conserve the unique resources on the land while maintaining private ownership and property rights. Landowners that donate a conservation easement on their land may be eligible for significant federal tax benefits.
- Conservation Easement Acquisitions – Depending on funding, HILT may also be able to acquire conservation easements from farmers and ranchers that own land with important natural and/or cultural resources.
- Farm and Ranch Acquisitions – HILT may be able to assist farmers and ranchers that are looking to purchase farm and/or ranch lands in Hawaii or expand an existing farm or ranch through land acquisition.
HILT has worked with numerous farm and ranch owners across Hawaii to preserve and protect the lands precious resources while also providing peace of mind and financial benefits to the owners. Here are a few examples of HILT’s working farm and ranch projects:
PROTECTED AGRICULTURAL LANDS
MAHALO TO OUR AGRICULTURE PARTNERS
Honolulu Coffee Company