Sugar is officially dead in Hawaii. That once beautiful swaying crop across the plains of central Maui will not see another Christmas, and at least half of the men and women who lovingly tended those fields will be jobless by 2017. With a workforce of 675 people, around 337 individuals will be added to the masses of people looking for work on Maui.
While activists online are celebrating the end of sugar, I find myself sad that this era is over. I’m also thankful that my children had the opportunity in their small-kid days to know what this beautiful island looked like with graceful sugar stalks covering the fields around our home. The press release cites, “the roughly $30 million Agribusiness operating loss we expect to incur in 2015, and the forecast for continued significant losses” as the reason for the transition, but I can’t imagine that the thumping fists of the local activists didn’t have a little something to do with the decision.
It’s EXACTLY how I want to see my prospective Senator respond to the loss of over 300 jobs on our island. With cheering and chicken skin. (Heavy sarcasm font). Plus, the activists commenting on Terez’s post are already planning their next round of protests: the cattle industry.
I’m thankful to see Alexander & Baldwin committing themselves to keeping these lands in agricultural endeavors, and I look forward to seeing what they have in store. Perhaps a new HC&S will emerge as Hawaiian Cattle & Soy. I suspect central Maui will begin to look far more like a Midwest landscape over the next few years. Iowa really will Meet Maui. I will spend 2016 relishing the last of the sugar as this great company with over 150 years of service to our island is reinvented. Twenty-sixteen will be the year that sugar died in the state of Hawaii. May she rest in peace and may the employees find good jobs as the inevitable layoffs begin.
Click here for more information on the transition of HC&S to diversified ag.
Read about the activists protesting sugar here.