Ruderman vows to work with Ha
State Sen. Russell Ruderman hasn’t changed his opposition to genetically modified agriculture, but he has changed his view of Richard Ha.
Ruderman earlier this month sent an email urging recipients who share his “revulsion” over Ha’s renomination to the state Board of Agriculture to tell lawmakers to vote against it.
“If each senator gets 100 emails in opposition this will not fly,” the email said.
The Puna Democrat said he was concerned Ha would support biotech over organic agriculture. But, after offering Ha an apology for the email and speaking with him about the issue, Ruderman said he now supports his renomination.
“We left laughing and shaking hands,” he said of their meeting, “and vowing to work together” on areas of common ground, including food security and renewable energy.
On Thursday, the state Senate Committee on Agriculture voted unanimously in favor of granting Ha another four years on the board as Hawaii Island’s representative. His reappointment is dependent on a vote from the entire Senate.
Ha, who owns Hamakua Springs Country Farms, could not be reached for comment on his meeting with Ruderman.
But he said earlier he supports all forms of agriculture.
“Food security is the main issue,” Ha said. “GMOs is just one tool to accomplish that.”
For the committee hearing, the testimony came largely in Ha’s favor.
The 303 pages of submitted testimony included 20 opponents of his renomination.
Almost all of the opposing testifiers shared Ruderman’s initial concerns and said the board needs fewer GMO supporters.
Some called him an advocate for Monsanto and large-scale agriculture.
“Please remember your duty to the people over profit and block Mr. Ha’s nomination,” wrote Susan Bambara.
Some of the committee members said they felt Ha was being treated unfairly.
“It’s a little unfortunate in some of the testimony that if you even appear to support biotech you’re disqualified from serving,” said Sen. Ronald Kouchi, a Kauai Democrat and vice chairman of the committee. “It’s just painful to see the integrity of an individual dragged through the mud like that when all he’s trying to do is feed the people.”
Said Chairman Sen. Clarence Nishihara: “There’s no doubt that Richard Ha has been under unfair scrutiny.”
Those writing in support praised Ha as an advocate for all farmers and food sustainability.
“As a farmer and community leader, Richard understands the demands and needs of both the agricultural community and the Hawaii Island community,” wrote Mayor Billy Kenoi.
David Matsuura, an organic farmer, wrote in support.
“Richard is a great farmer and knows the needs of the farming community,” he said.
Nancy Cook Lauer contributed to this report.
Email Tom Callis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rules for posting comments
Comments posted below are from readers. In no way do they represent the view of Stephens Media LLC or this newspaper. This is a public forum.
Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content but the newspaper is under no obligation to do so. Comment posters are solely responsible under the Communications Decency Act for comments posted on this Web site. Stephens Media LLC is not liable for messages from third parties.
IP and email addresses of persons who post are not treated as confidential records and will be disclosed in response to valid legal process.
Do not post:
- Potentially libelous statements or damaging innuendo.
- Obscene, explicit, or racist language.
- Copyrighted materials of any sort without the express permission of the copyright holder.
- Personal attacks, insults or threats.
- The use of another person's real name to disguise your identity.
- Comments unrelated to the story.
If you believe that a commenter has not followed these guidelines, please click the FLAG icon below the comment.