Ulupono Initiative will establish Hawaii Dairy Farms on Kauai, with construction expected to begin next year.
Ulupono’s mission is to increase local food production and it will base the dairy farm’s operations on the New Zealand model of pastoral dairies using grass as the primary feed source.
Less than 9 percent of the milk sold in Hawaii is produced locally, Ulupono officials said.
Local dairies provided all of the state’s milk until 1984, following contamination of the local milk supply by a pesticide in the feed given to local dairy cows.
Heptachlor was used in pineapple fields and was present in the tops removed from pineapples, known as green chop, that was fed to the cows.
Importation of mainland milk became the norm and between the heptachlor crisis, high costs of imported feed used to replace green chop and other factors, local dairies slowly went out of business.
“After several years of studying the benefits of the grass-fed model to offset the volatile cost of imported feed, we believe that forming Hawaii Dairy Farms is an important step toward revitalizing our local dairy industry,” said Kyle Datta, general partner of Ulupono Initiative, in a statement.