On January 6, 2016, Alexander & Baldwin, Inc., HC&S’s parent company, announced that it would be transitioning out of farming sugar and will instead pursue a diversified agricultural model for our 36,000-acre plantation. Sugar operations will be phased out by the end of 2016, and the transition to a new model will occur over a multi-year period.
HC&S is committed to looking for optimal productive agricultural uses for its lands. Under the new diversified model, the plantation is planned to be divided up into smaller farms with varied agricultural uses. Several categories of potential replacement agricultural activities are being evaluated. These include energy crops, agroforestry, grass-finished livestock operations, diversified food crops, and orchard crops, among others.
Several test projects are underway to further assess these opportunities, with plans to expand the scope and scale of the trials during the final harvest period.
Building upon its extensive experience with crop-to-energy production, HC&S has initiated crop trials to evaluate potential sources of feedstock for anaerobic conversion to biogas. This on-farm testing is currently being expanded from plot to field-scale. HC&S is also assessing the potential of cultivating purpose-grown oilseed crops for biodiesel production.
HC&S is exploring the viability of irrigated pasture to support the production of grass-finished cattle to supply Hawaii’s beef market. We’ve converted a test site of former sugar land to cultivated pasture and are working with Maui Cattle Company to conduct a grass-finishing pasture trial. High-quality grazing lands could enable Maui’s cattle ranchers to expand their herds and keep more cattle in Hawaii for finishing on grass.
HC&S plans to establish an agriculture park on former sugar lands in order to provide opportunities for farmers to access these agricultural lands and support the cultivation of food crops on Maui. HC&S employees will be given preference to lease lots from the company to start their own farming operations.