Thursday, July 10, 2008

We don't see the sun anymore

House Special Committee on Vog Effects - left to right - Rep. Jerry Chang, Rep. Clift Tsuji, Rep. Bob Herkes, Rep. Cindy Evans, Rep. Faye Hanohano
Big Island protea grower Sam Bayaoa shows the committee the burnt leaves and small flowers caused by vog conditions.

The House Special Committee on Vog Effects held its second meeting today, this one focusing on the effects of VOG on agriculture. Here are some startling statements from farmers:

"The sulfur dioxide is the primary factor of damage, but there are other factors related to the SO2. For example, we don't see the sun anymore. So far, my sales are down 30%. I expect them to be down by 50% by the end of the year. I've had to cut my labor force by half. My financial loss is about $100,000." Jeff McCall, McCall Farms - Wood Valley, Ka'u.

"I was wiped out in Oceanview. I had to move to Pahala. I've had experience with volcanic emissions from Mt. St. Helens. I've been calling my friends in Oregon and Washington to get their advice on how to deal with this. The VOG didn't kill my flowers, but it made them unmarketable. I used to ship all over the world. Now, I can't even ship to Watanabe Florist. I'm almost bankrupt. I did $30 in sales in the last few weeks. I'm wiped out." Ted Seaman.
"I specialize in protea. The pin cushion flowers should be four times this size. The leaves are burnt and the flowers are deformed. I've suffered a 100% loss. I told the farmers that I was coming to Oahu to speak to the legislature, and they said, tell them we're all wiped out." Sam Bayaoa.

The next meeting will be in two weeks and will focus on the economic losses attributed to vog.

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