EMC Leads Effort to Re-evaluate the Kauaʻi Good Neighbor Program

 

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture has contracted with the Environmental Mediation Center to re-evaluate the Kauaʻi Good Neighbor Program. EMC team members will meet with agricultural businesses, local residents, and other affected stakeholders to hear perspectives about the program’s value.

 

As added context, the 2018 Hawaiʻi Legislature passed Act 45, which requires all restricted-use pesticide (RUP) applicators to report their RUP usage at the end of each calendar year. Among other provisions, Act 45 established 100-foot buffer zones around pre-schools and elementary and high schools for RUPs, and requires HDOA to produce a summary, by county, of RUP usage.

 

The EMC will be scheduling interviews and conducting focus group meetings to hear feedback about the program. We look forward to once again working with the Kauaʻi community on this important issue. 

 

To learn more about the Kauaʻi Good Neighbor Program, see our summary below and previous report.

2015 Evaluation of the Kauaʻi Good Neighbor Program

The Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture (HDOA) developed the Kauaʻi Agricultural Good Neighbor Program (Good Neighbor Program) in response to the highly-charged debate on Kauaʻi over pesticides. The Good Neighbor Program includes voluntary guidelines for outreach, pre-application notification and post-application reporting, and increased buffers for restricted use pesticides (RUP).

 

In 2015, HDOA asked the Environmental Mediation Center to conduct an evaluation of the Good Neighbor Program. 

Summary of the Good Neighbor Program and Evaluation

The Good Neighbor Program is a voluntary program. Syngenta, BASF Plant Science, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont Pioneer, and Kauaʻi Coffee Co., LLC. participated in the program. The evaluation included an online survey and interviews and small focus group meetings with participating companies, neighbors, and other stakeholders.

 

Outreach

The Good Neighbor Program anticipated that participating farm operators would meet with their neighbors to discuss the farm’s use of RUPs and any questions or concerns the neighbors had. The evaluation investigated the frequency of  dialogues and the level of satisfaction from those who participated.

 

Notification And Reporting

Under the notification process of the Good Neighbor Program, participating farm operators who utilize RUPs provide pre-application notice to certain entities that registered to receive information from a particular farm. The evaluation investigated how many people registered and the level of satisfaction with the information provided in the pre-application notification.

 

Participating farm operators also provided monthly post-application reports to an HDOA database that lists all applications of RUPs, including the product, the amount applied, and the acreage treated. The evaluation investigated the frequency of visits to the database, the accessibility of information, and the adequacy of information provided.

 

Buffers

With a few exceptions, the Good Neighbor Program established a voluntary minimum buffer of 100 feet between the application of a RUP and the property line of schools, medical facilities, and residences. Any existing stricter regulation superseded the Good Neighbor Program buffer. The evaluation investigated any compliance issues, complaints, and stakeholders’ satisfaction with the buffer.

 

Evaluation Team

Matt Strassberg is the director of the Environmental Mediation Center and the administrator of the Hawaiʻi Agricultural Mediation Program as well as agricultural mediation programs in other states. He is an attorney and mediator with over twenty five years of experience in environmental law and mediation. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Coalition of Agricultural Mediation Programs, and is listed on the roster of the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution.

 

Kem Lowry is an Emeritus Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi. He has researched and served as consultant to public agencies, non-profit organizations on land use and environmental policy including agricultural issues. He is also a mediator, facilitator, and has conducted numerous program evaluations internationally.

Final Report on the Kauaʻi Agricultural Good Neighbor ProgramThis report summarizes findings of a formative evaluation of the Good Neighbor Program conducted by the Environmental Mediation Center in the fall of 2015.

 

The Good Neighbor Program was well received by the participating companies and surrounding communities and served as a catalyst for the companies to conduct a comprehensive outreach campaign and meet with surrounding communities. The Good Neighbor Program did not pose an undue administrative problem and the companies expressed a willingness to continue participating in the program.