Hawaii Dairy Farm Factsheet

SOURCE: Diane de Vries (diane.e.devries@gmail.com)
SUBHEAD: HDF’s sole owner is Pierre Omidyar, through his venture capital company: Ulu’pono Initiative.

By Staff on 4 October 2014 for Friends of Mahaulepu -

Image above: Portion of New Chester Dairy for 4,000 cows in Grand Marsh, Wisconsin. Note the use of sand to suppress and manage cow waste at this mega-dairy. From website of cow restraint and dairy accessories. (http://www.freudenthalmfg.com/stalls/freestalls_dogbone.html).

Hawaii Dairy Farms is slated to be located in the Mahaulepu area of Kauai on a 582-acre pasture parcel of Important Agricultural Land (IAL) leased from Grove Farm. The overall design and construction is being done in partnership with Dairy SolutioNZ, Ltd., a consortium of New Zealand’s top dairy industry companies, and local business partners.  Jim Garmatz, a dairyman with more than 25 years experience, will manage dairy operations.
  1. HDF, misrepresented critical facts to State and County:
    • HDF’s plan stated the farm soil had a high clay component, easily compacted and very hard (HDF Plan pg 7). Later, when discussing pasture irrigation and the management of urine and manure deposits, HDF described the soil as “free draining volcanic soil” (HDF Plan pg. 51 & 93). See Exhibit 1.  After being called on it by members of the public, HDF has finally tested their proposed farm’s soil and now reports the soil is nearly all clay. Water will pool on it as will waste and thus be subject to runoff and discharge to the ocean. HDF reports that there will be rapid run off after the clay soil receives in excess of 1/5 inch of rain per hour. (See table on pg 14, HDF’s new CNMP)

    • HDF tested and confirmed soil type only after April, 2014. They had already determined their herd size, without regard for the soil’s ability to produce the grass crop that the cows would need or the soils ability to absorb the waste dropped by the cows. Both their original and new plan call for all waste to remain on the farm but there was no testing of their soil beforehand to confirm that their soil type would support their plan to be a zero waste elimination dairy (one that keeps the waste on the pastures and use what falls elsewhere on the farm).

    • HDF’s original distributed Fact Sheet stated “NRCS permit- Completed.”

    • In fact, NRCS (National Resource Conservation Services) does not issue permits.

    • HDF reported the storm risk in 24 hours over the past 25 years as 6.6 inches (HDF Plan, pg 18 re: the milking parlor roof). See Exhibit 2. The actual 24hr/25yr rain event in Maha’ulepu (per US Weather Service) = 9.7 inches.

    • After residents obtained US Weather Service records and sent them to the State, HDF’s new plan calculates the 24hr/25yr rain event in excess of 10 inches.

    • When discussing effluent pond management, HDF reported the multiple day rainfall risk as 1.89 inches per day, 8 inches below the US Weather Service records (HDF Plan pg 87). In so doing, HDF understated the risk of waste runoff.  See Exhibit 2.

    • 25 year plan, required by State, should have included Hurricane event (Iniki-1992).

    • HDF does not have an emergency plan for a 25 year storm event.

    • Per HDF, their Plan emulates the ‘successful’ Dairy Farm model in New Zealand (NZ).

      HDF failed to disclose the NZ dairies have caused nationwide environmental pollution: http://www.pce.parliament.nz/assets/Uploads/PCE-Water-quality-land-use-web-ammended.pdf

    • HDF plans to graze with a stocking density (cows per acre) greater than any other US dairy.

    • HDF refers to their proposed operation as “Hawaii’s first grass fed dairy”. In addition to their new CNMP, they even make that claim in a full page ad in the most recent issue of Kauai Family:“Located in Maha’ulepu, the farm will be Hawaii’s first grass fed dairy.” See Exhibit 3.  In fact, their plan still calls for 6.6 pounds grain feeding per cow/per milking daily. Their ad ignores Mauna Kea Moo, a Big Island grass fed dairy. It also ignores the definition of “grass fed” per the USDA: Grass (Forage) FedGrass and forage shall be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant animal, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. The diet shall be derived solely from forage consisting of grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassica), browse, or cereal grain crops in the vegetative (pre-grain) state. Animals cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Hay, haylage, baleage, silage, crop residue without grain, and other roughage sources may also be included as acceptable feed sources. Routine mineral and vitamin supplementation may also be included in the feeding regimen. If incidental supplementation occurs due to inadvertent exposure to non-forage feedstuffs or to ensure the animal’s well being at all times during adverse environmental or physical conditions, the producer must fully document (e.g., receipts, ingredients, and tear tags) the supplementation that occurs including the amount, the frequency, and the supplements provided.

    • HDF’s plan states they will be a zero waste dairy, no manure or urine to leave the farm. However, HDF does not disclose the volume of manure and urine to be deposited daily by the 1800 + cow herd (approx. 200 tons manure and 10,400 gallons urine/day).
    • HDF has no plan for preventing waste run off during rain storms, a high risk considering farm’s clay based soil and volume of waste.|
    • HDF’s initial plan submitted without a drainage study or hydrologic model. Large sections of current plan have been redacted by HDF, claiming confidentiality.
    • When asked about emergency/backup plan for overflow or discharge of waste, HDF representatives said “We’ll just deal with it when it happens.”
    • HDF plans on spraying fields with waste water collected from cow waste dropped in milking parlor (approx. 10% of daily waste) washed into effluent collection ponds. (New Plan redacts nearly all discussion of effluent pond management)
    • HDF did not disclose manufacturer’s warning against spraying from their planned overhead irrigation system when winds exceeding 10 mph (a frequent occurrence in Maha’ulepu Valley).
    • HDF’s new Plan reports “The average local temperature is in the ideal 43 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit range for Kikuyu”.   See Exhibit 4.  All who live here know that statement is false. The actual average air temperatures in Maha’ulepu range between 69-77 degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer months, however, there are many days in Maha’ulepu in the high 80’s and even a few in the low 90’s. Kikuyu grass is not reported to grow well in the actual temperature ranges of Maha’ulepu.
    • HDF distributed fliers and said their milk would be good for Kaua’i’s children. HDF, however, has contracted to ship all milk from Kauai, selling it to Meadow Gold for process and sale. Once sold to Meadow Gold, distribution will be determined by Meadow Gold.
    • On the grass feed for the cows, HDF stated they consulted with Chin Lee, PhD, University of Hawaii, published grass and grazing specialist. However, when contacted, Dr. Lee said he had “NOT” been a consultant for HDF.  See Exhibit 5.
    • When residents asked about the type of grass for grazing, HDF said that there were four types of kikuyu grass and that they “would have to check with their expert, Dr. Lee.” When Dr. Lee was contacted, he advised there are “129 varieties of kikuyu grass, and that he did not know what HDF was planting.”  See Exhibit 5.
    • HDF’s plan for the 582 acre farm designates approx 476 acres for grazing (120 three to four acre fenced paddocks). HDF’s 1800+ cow herd will be divided into mobs of 300-330 using 6 fenced paddocks per day.
    • In response to a series of hypothetical questions about a dairy operating on 582 acres, its potential grass yield as feed for a herd and advisable stocking density (cows per acre), Matt Stevenson, Certified Professional in Range Management of UH- CTAHR responded that the maximum herd size should be about 378 lactating cows for a 580 acre farm. “580 acres x 7500 lbs/acre = 4.35 million lbs available forage per year total assuming, unrealistically, uniform production, no droughts, and no pests/diseases…This is not a recommendation for any particular property.” See Exhibit 6. His response is very balanced with clear statements that more information is necessary but the best management practices he applied do not come close to supporting even the initial 880 pregnant cows that HDF plans to import.
    • Mauna Kea Moo, a new Big Island dairy, will have 200 dairy cows and 100 beef cattle on 1,400 acres. They plan to produce milk and cheese. That dairy was five years in planning and has four + acres for every cow, much like most U.S. grass fed dairies except in areas where there are long winters prompting grass fed dairies to provide even more acreage per cow.

  2. HDF’s sole owner is Pierre Omidyar
    Through his venture capital company: Ulu’pono Initiative.

  3. The total farm size is 582 acres
    In Maha’ulepu Valley, home to multiple endangered species.

  4. Planned Herd Size: 1,880-2,000 cows

  5. Planned Farm Development:
    • 476 acres committed to grazing (120 fenced paddocks)
    • 106 acres devoted to milking parlor, calving barn, effluent ponds, raceways, drainage ditches, office buildings, sheds, overhead irrigation system pump stations, etc.

  6. Grazing patternRotational grazing 300-330 cows per 3+ – 4+ acre paddock, moved at 24 hour intervals.

  7. 1880-2000 head to use 6 paddocks per 24/hr interval.

  8. There will be no shelter facility for the cows.

  9. Cows will sleep on the paddocks On which they graze and where their waste is dropped.

  10. Cow waste production per cow per day: 100-120 lbs manure; 6-8 gallons of urine (total herd waste: 200,000+ lbs. manure and 16,000 gallons of urine per day). In their newest CNMP, HDF has redacted all information about daily waste production and refuses to disclose to the public how their manure, urine, and effluent pond will be managed.State Permit Status: State Permits and approval of the new Plan is pending review by Department of Health (DOH).

  11. State Permit Status:
    State Permits and approval of the new Plan is pending review by Department of Health (DOH). HDF Ads suggest that their operation is already approved. See Exhibit “3.” A grading and grubbing exemption was issued March 17th, 2014 after HDF presented their flawed Plan to West Kauai Soil and Water Conservation Districts (WKS&WCD), a volunteer board unfamiliar with industrial dairy operations and animal waste management. HDF Plan was found deficient by the DOH. HDF has resubmitted a revised CNMP to the DOH. HDF marked their most recent Plan “Confidential.” The DOH forwarded the plan to the Attorney General for review to determine whether HDF can legally keep the facts of their plan from the public. Parts of the new Plan have been released but HDF has redacted large parts of the plan claiming confidentiality.

  12. Federally Listed Threatened or Endangered species at risk:
    Hawaiian Duck, Nene Goose, Hawaiian Owl, Hawaiian Coot, Common Moorhen, Hawaiian Stilt, Newell Shearwater Birds, Blind Cave Spider, Monk Seals, Sea Turtles, and multiple plant species.

  13. There are two bills, one before the US House
    HB 3131: Introduced by Tulsi Gabbard, Colleen Hanabusa, and others and one before the Senate, SB 618,  introduced by Brian Schatz, asking for Special Resource Study, the second step in consideration for designating Maha`ulepu and surrounding areas as a National Preserve.

  14. The National Parks Service released its  reconnaissance study:
    A beautiful tribute to Maha’ulepu and well worth reviewing: www.nps.gov/pwr/upload/mahaulepu_final.pdf

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