The ivory-billed woodpecker, America's largest woodpecker, with a 31-inch wingspan, is extinct, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, ending years of lingering hopes that the "Lord God Bird" had survived deep in southern bottomland forests. The ivory-bill was one of 23 species declared extinct on Wednesday, 11 of them birds.
In its largest set of declarations since mid-May, the USDA designated 101 counties in the Midwest and West as natural disaster areas due to drought. The designations make farmers and ranchers eligible for USDA emergency loans.
Hawaii, the top coffee producer in the United States, is expected to see marginally lower production this year than last, and coffee acreage will be down nearly 3 percent.
The amount of land used for agriculture in Hawaii has declined 68 percent since 1980, primarily because of the end of pineapple and sugar cultivation, said the Washington Post.
The Honolulu-based Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council is in the midst of a debate about changing the rules governing non-commercial fishing in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument since the monument’s size was quadrupled by the Obama administration.
Pierre Omidyar says he wants to build a dairy along the coast of Kauai to reduce Hawaii’s reliance on imported milk, but locals worry that runoff from such an operation, as well as the flies and odors it would bring, would hurt the island’s crucial tourism business, reports The New York Times.
After three Hawaiian counties lost efforts to regulate GMOs and require pesticide disclosure on the local level, Democratic state Rep. Richard Creagan is proposing a change to a state bill that would require agribusinesses to reveal what kinds of pesticides they are using, where they are using them, and in what quantities.
Hawaii’s sugar workers are packing up the state’s final harvest and waving goodbye to an industry that was once king, says NPR. Mechanization in mills on the mainland, competition from Brazil, and rising labor costs have crippled Hawaiian sugar. Now only one mill remains, and when it shuts down at the end of the year, 675 workers will lose their jobs.
In a victory for Monsanto, Syngenta and other seed companies farming in Hawaii, a federal appeals court ruled that counties can’t regulate pesticide use or GMO crops, says Civil Beat. “The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Friday that Hawaii state pesticide law is comprehensive, and that the Legislature intended it to be 'uniform and exclusive of additional, local rules.'”
With Syngenta already under investigation for the alleged misuse of pesticides in Hawaii, the EPA is now looking into Monsanto, Terminix, and Wonder Farm [a Hawaiian agricultural operation] for allegedly ignoring pesticide laws in Hawaii, says Civil Beat.
Although Japan, South Korea, China, the United States and other countries agreed in 2013 to catch less big-eye tuna in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, U.S. long-line fishermen are raising their catch quotas through side agreements with Pacific island territories, says Civil Beat. Many …
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has placed the first bees ever on the federal endangered species list, with the addition of seven Hawaiian species from the genus Hylaeus, says National Geographic. Yellow-faced bees are the only native bees to Hawaii and the sole pollinators of a beach shrub known as naupaka, known for having flowers that look like they’re missing half their petals.
Federal investigators say they haven’t found much evidence to back up claims of labor abuse on Hawaiian fishing boats, reports Civil Beat. The officials started interviewing foreign workers after an Associated Press investigation revealed human trafficking, egregious pay and abusive working conditions for the Southeast Asian men who make up the majority of Hawaii’s fishing fleet crews.
Earthjustice, an environmental law firm, has asked the EPA to revoke the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s authority to enforce federal pesticide regulations, claiming the department’s pesticide program is understaffed and effectively failing to do its job, reports Honolulu Civil Beat. “The public is at risk and the Department of Agriculture is asleep at the wheel,” Paul Achitoff, managing attorney of Earthjustice, told Civil Beat.
Anti-GMO activists addressed the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Honolulu this week, in an effort to regulate GMO crops in three counties, reports The Seattle Times. The activists from Maui, Hawaii and Kauai, say they fear the pesticide use that comes with GMO production. All three counties have passed legislation limiting or outright banning GMOs. But after Monsanto and Dow Chemical sued in response, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren ruled in 2014 that state and federal laws supersede county legislation, making the anti-GMO laws null and void.
Thirty Hawaiian lawmakers wrote President Obama urging him not to expand the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument by 8 percent, as conservationists have proposed, says Civil Beat.
Earthjustice, an environmental nonprofit law firm, served Hawaii’s Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) with a notice of intent to sue, claiming the agency has allowed pesticides to contaminate a drainage ditch on the island of Kauai, says The Civil Beat. ADC is a branch of the Hawaiian Department of Agriculture, leasing thousands of acres of land to farms that plant genetically engineered crops.
Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company (HC&S) is facing a $30 million revenue loss from 2015 with worse projections to come, says The Guardian.