POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 17, 2011
QUESTION: Whatever happened to the lease rent negotiations between farmers and landowner Kamehameha Schools in East Oahu’s Kamilo Nui Valley?
ANSWER: According to Kamehameha Schools spokeswoman Ann Botticelli, talks are continuing and have not gone into arbitration.
Botticelli declined to discuss details of the talks.
“That’s not something we’re going to comment on,” she said.
Kamilo Nui Valley farmers were initially offered a proposal that would increase their lease from $200 an acre per year to about $5,000 an acre per year, according to the tenants and landlord.
Farmer Glenn Nii, representing his family including his father and mother, said a different proposal by Kamehameha Schools is on the table.
“We haven’t decided what we’re going to do yet,” he said.
Nii declined to discuss the details.
Nii said about 10 farmers are negotiating as an alliance with Kamehameha Schools.
The lease for new terms as of 2025 came up for negotiation in July.
Nii said five of the 10 farm families have members in their 80s and 90s, including his father, Charles.
“The older people, all they want to do is live out their life here,” he said.
Nii said his father has been leasing land from Kamehameha Schools for more than 60 years.
Nii said besides lease rents, farmers face other costs, including insurance and labor.
He doesn’t think the 25-fold increase for farmers is reasonable, even though residential rents are considerably higher.
“If a quart of milk costs $1 about 40 years ago, does it cost $25 today?” he said.
Nii recalled his family moving three times as urban development expanded in East Oahu.
Nii said Hawaii people should consider the sustainability of agriculture and what will happen to the cost of food if none is grown locally.
“Where is it going to all end?” he said.
This update was written by Gary T. Kubota. You can write to us at Whatever Happened To …, Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-210, Honolulu 96813; call 529-4747; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.