Couple buys belongings of a disused dairy farm on the island of Hawaii | Information, sports activities, jobs

HILO (AP) – The owners of a Hawaiian food distribution company bought the assets of a Hamakua dairy farm that was abandoned a few years ago.

Chad and Stephanie Buck, of Oahu, recently bought the former Big Island Dairy’s assets in hopes of supporting sustainable agriculture, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported last week.

The Bucks own and operate Hawaii Foodservice Alliance, a food distribution and logistics company that sells dairy and baked goods to Hawaii’s grocers, clubs, and convenience stores.

“Having recently witnessed the food challenges exposed by COVID and Hawaii’s lack of sustainable agriculture, we believe that this processing equipment, infrastructure and farm equipment should be saved, reused whenever possible, and used for the good of the community and Hawaii.” Chad Buck wrote a letter to the newspaper.

Big Island Dairy was on state-leased land. The Bucks are working with the State Department of Agriculture on a lease transfer application.

However, Buck said they are “Obliged not to replicate the industrial dairy operations of past years.”

Buck did not want to comment on the purchase price of the assets or the cost of the lease.

The previous owners of Big Island Dairy announced in 2018 that they would be closing down the dairy and milk processing operations on the Hamakua property. The dairy was closed to resolve a 2017 lawsuit filed by civic groups for violations of the federal clean water law.

Buck wrote that the land must heal. He said it could provide sustainable food and a place of community for the surrounding area.

Buck said an industrial dairy farm would not be suitable. He said he hoped to partner with agricultural advocates for the Island of Hawaii “To develop a sustainable and environmentally friendly plan and operation to manufacture suitable products in the existing facilities.”

Buck said the number of dairy cows was limited. Current discussions are for a “Boutique” Pasture operation with 200 head of cattle. Big Island Dairy had more than 1,000 heads on the property.

The operation is currently called Hamakua Ag Works, but name brands will be added as soon as production begins. The aim is to go into production in 2022.

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