When one thinks of Poipu, the initial images that come to mind are pristine Mahaulepu Beach, Poipu Bay Golf Course, the Grand Hyatt, beautiful scenery, sunshine, and (of course) world-famous Poipu Beach. Now, there’s potentially something more: 2,000 KiwiCross dairy cows and biting flies!
One of the bays along iconic Mahaulepu
The farming plan includes introducing a species of wasp not currently on Kauai to control the flies. Will this work? There’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding what’s happening in Mahaulepu Valley. Is an industrial-sized dairy farm beneficial for Kauai? Is it environmentally sound or harmful? I attended the Friends of Mahaulepu community meeting at the Koloa Neighborhood Center on October 23, 2014 to obtain more information. Here’s a brief synopsis of what’s happening:
All in Favor
- Hawaii Dairy Farms (HDF)
- Pierre Omidyar’s, eBay founder, Ulupono Initiative
- Grove Farm
eBay founder, Pierre Omidyar’s, Ulupono Initiative is planning Hawaii Dairy Farms (HDF), a 578-acre dairy farm being developed on the south shore of Kauai in Mahaulepu Valley on leased Grove Farm land.
According to the HDF website, the dairy will “utilize a pasture-based rotational grazing approach for a more sustainable dairy model. It will be Hawaii’s first zero-discharge, grass-fed dairy and the first commercial use of designated Important Agricultural Lands (IAL) on Kauai…” HDF estimates that the hybrid KiwiCross dairy cows will annually produce roughly 3.7 million gallons of milk, doubling statewide production.
I remember the first time I heard about the Hawaii Dairy Farm. I read an article in the Garden Island Newspaper announcing the dairy, which was originally intended to be in Puhi.
- Malama Mahaulepu
- Friends of Mahaulepu
- Kawailoa Development LLP (owners of the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the Poipu Bay Golf Course)
The opposition are collectively dedicated to protecting the natural beauty of Mahaulepu’s pristine coastal valley, white sand beaches, and coral reefs, which are currently free of any development. According to the Friends of Mahaulepu website, their concern is the environmental impact upon the unique ecosystem by “2,000 cows will be grazed on just 24 acres per day (83 cows per acre), will result in at least 200,000 lbs. of manure and 16,000 gallons of urine being left daily on the clay soils found on the farm site.”
Beyond the endemic, protected and endangered species, they stress the risk to the waterways (streams and the ocean) from pollutant runoff as well as the health of visitors and residents, who enjoy Mahaulepu.
In July, the Kawailoa Development LLP (owners of the Grand Hyatt Kauai and the Poipu Bay Golf Course) filed a suit against Hawaii Dairy Farms, claiming “its business, recreational, environmental and aesthetic interests would be adversely affected by the wastewater treatment unit, the dairy farm and its effluent ponds” (The Garden Island Newspaper).
It was brought up at the meeting by Bridget Hammerquist that this will be a mechanized milking operation, and HPD will employ just 15 people. Really? The Grand Hyatt books conferences at their hotel over a year in advance, and their conference bookings have declined. Will the dairy cost more than 15 employees their jobs at the Grand Hyatt? The milk will be shipped off-island to Oahu for processing. This dairy will be designed to meet international standards for export.
One of the major concerns voiced at the latest public community meeting is the current water quality. When Carl Berg of the Surfrider Foundation Kauai Chapter began collecting samples of “pre-dairy” Enterococcus bacteria levels last April from Waiopili Stream at Mahaulepu, he discovered alarmingly high levels. He stated, “This thing (Waiopili Stream) is eight times more polluted than the worst ones (on the island). This is just outrageous!” This discovery needs further research to pinpoint a cause and find a solution.
I appreciated County Council Member Joann Yukimura’s comment on this, “There seems to be a separate, but related really big problem here.” Several county officials attended Thursday evening’s event. I was hoping to hear information from both sides, but a HDF representative was not present.
So, Where Are We Now?
To date, numerous letters have been written to billionaire Pierre Omidyar in opposition to the dairy, yet none have elicited a response. Hopefully, those in favor of the dairy will see Mahaulepu’s worthiness of preservation rather than profit. Perhaps, the Hawaii Land Trust for conservation will be in its future? Either way, expect to see more “No Moo Poo in Mahaulepu” bumper stickers while driving around the island.