The Paradox of Important Agricultural Lands in Hawai‘i
Many competing visions are imposed on rural Hawaii, visions that are shaped by history, culture, and political economic interests in this state. Efforts to improve food democracy and food production for local consumption must be viewed against this backdrop. Furthermore, they must be placed in the context of globalized agro-food systems as well as global capital mobility that has played a large role in the flow of investment to the state. This chapter presents an overview of the changing uses of agricultural and rural lands, and the different policy tools that have been developed by state and county officials in Hawai‘i. Through an analysis of Acts 183 and 233 on “important agricultural lands”, the chapter shows that protecting prime agricultural lands has become an end in itself rather than a means to the achievement of a vision for a new agricultural future for Hawaiʻi. It has had as little impact on the processes of rural gentrification as it has had on improving food security for the islands. The chapter provides a macro perspective to situate the case studies presented in the subsequent chapters.
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