Federal judge in Hawaii bars county from excessive regulation

By Gene Hall

It’s always refreshing to see a legal matter settled on the basis of law and fact rather than emotion, overheated rhetoric and political theory. This was the case in Hawaii a few days ago when a federal judge ruled against Kauai County’s aggressive and anti-farmer Ordinance 960.

It’s not that silly laws never win in court, but this one, sillier than most, was turned back, though on more narrow grounds than I believe were justified.  Kauai County Ordinance 960 was passed some months ago with very strict curbs on many agricultural practices and the agribusiness firms that operate there. Included were restrictions on pesticide use and biotechnology, or GMOs if you will. The trouble is, that’s the state’s job—one that Hawaii performs aggressively.

One of the assumptions this ill-advised ordinance makes, without any evidence, is that these practices are dangerous. The facts overwhelmingly point to the exact opposite. Imagine the absolute nightmare of a farmer or even a large company trying to grow crops in a patchwork system of conflicting county regulations. When it comes to regulations governing the growing of food, consistency is the friend of farmers and consumers alike.

The Hawaii case is too narrow to be applied in most other situations, but the application of fact and reason here is an encouraging thing. In the months and years ahead, the courts are going to see a lot of these cases. Labeling laws and outright bans on GMOs and additional layers of regulations are going to be tested because they are not based on fact.

Anything not based on actual science should be quickly and rightly overturned. Frankly, that’s true of most of this controversy.

Gene Hall

Public Relations Director
Texas Farm Bureau
I believe that the only hope for a food secure world is capitalism and reasonable profits for America’s farm and ranch families–that the first element of sustainability is economic survival.
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