THE CARROLL COX SHOW
NEWS AND COMMENTARY
August 2, 2015
Located between mile markers ten and eleven on the NorthShore, a group of small farms are nestled against the mountains of Kahuku, where approximately seventeen independent farmers tirelessly work to support their families.
Several of the farmers report they have been given a new contract requiring them to pay a special fee of two thousand, seven-hundred and thirty-two dollars ($2,732.00) per acre they farm. Reportedly, the special fee is assessed to fund the construction of a road and other infrastructure to make the area more efficient for the farmers.
Some of the farmers told us the landowner's agents informed each of them to borrow the money from the United States Department Agriculture to pay their assessed special fee. However, they say they would not benefit from having a road built through the farm land, and since they are on a month to month lease that could easily be cancelled, it may leave them without a farm and still owing money to the lender they borrowed from to pay the special fee.
But, some of the farmers believe the fee is part of a bigger scheme to prevent them from farming, remove them completely from the area , and allow the owner to build a housing development on the farm land.
Some of the farmers state that the special fee is just one aspect of the scheme to get them off the land and describe a number of other actions taken by the land owner or their agents. The farmers claim that, as of September, 2014, they have been required to pay the land owner two hundred dollars per week to sell their vegetables and fruits from a stand on the property located along the highway. The land owner 's agents are prohibiting the farmers from cutting any of their fruit to sell at the stand. If caught cutting fruit or cooking any of the fruits or vegetables they will be prohibited from selling their fruits and vegetables for a week. Ms. Norma Rebago told us she received a suspension for a violation of the rule.
The farmers told us their fruit stands have received and possess a " pass" certificate from the Hawaii State Department of Health.
The farmers were also ordered not to sell their products in Chinatown.
Ms. Chue Outtaphone told us she was ordered not to grow bananas .
Mr. Ricardo Rebago stated that the way they were being treated by the landowner's agents "make me lazy. I no like plant now, too much harassment . Every day the landowner's agents threaten to take more land from me and give it to a new farmer".
Rebago showed me several bags of corn seed he had picked up earlier in the day stating "I paid fifteen dollars for these bags of seed. I don't want to plant them because I don't know if they will take the land after I plant the seed" Rebago and his wife Norma say they are currently leasing one hundred and sixty-two acres but are only allowed to farm thirty-two. they are required to pay the assessed special fee of approximately $ 105.000 for the thirty-two acres.
The farmers suspect, and they blame the recent agreement between conservationist groups, the State of Hawaii, and Turtle Bay to preserve conservation and agriculture lands for their demise.
The Carroll Cox Show obtained business registration information for Turtle Bay Mauka Lands, LLC. and found that Turtle Bay Mauka Lands, LLC. is "managed by members" of Turtle Bay Holdings, LLC. Turtle Bay Holdings is managed by Oaktree Capital Management, LP.
The records also show that an "APPLICATION FOR CERTIFICATE OF CANCELLATION" was filed by Turtle Bay Holdings, L.L.C.
The farmers are in an uphill battle and need public and government help to avoid financial ruin.
The ethnicity of the farmers are primarily Cambodian, Filipino and Laotian, and for some English is not their first language.
Turtle Bay Mauka Lands, L.L.C. , the conservation groups, and the government agencies must take the necessary actions and precautions to prevent any further harm and injustices inflicted or brought on by the conservation agreement currently being contemplated.
We tried calling Mauka Lands, L.L.C., but did not receive a response.
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