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Ulupono Initiative scraps plan for dairy farm on Kauai

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Mahaulepu, Kauai

Socially minded investment firm Ulupono Initiative has abandoned an 8-year effort to establish a dairy on Kauai that aimed to be the state’s biggest local milk source.

The organization announced today that it will no longer pursue the plan to start Hawaii Dairy Farms.

The decision follows years of pasture development trials, environmental reviews and community opposition that included a legal challenge over concerns that cow manure from such a large operation would hurt tourism in nearby resort areas and also pollute groundwater and ocean resources.

Ulupono said that it became clear that there was “no reasonable regulatory path forward” for permitting the dairy proposed for about 2,000 cows on 557 acres in Maha­ulepu Valley about 2.5 miles from residential and resort areas.

“Our proposal for the dairy farm was based on best management practices proven from around the world to create a more environmentally sustainable model of dairy farm that utilized active pasture management to minimize runoff and use grass as a low-cost source of feed,” Ulupono spokeswoman Amy Hennessey said in a statement. “But rather than incentivizing local food production to meet our state’s food goals, Hawaii’s environmental regulations seem to unfairly place dairies and other similar animal agriculture operations in the same category as wastewater treatment plants.”

Ulupono’s decision follows a recent decision by one of only two existing major Hawaii dairies, Island Dairy on Hawaii island, to shut down later this year over discharges of wastewater into the environment.

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