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Tuesday, September 19, 2000

State: Diversified
agriculture may be
option for Kauai land

Kauai economy diversifying

Star-Bulletin staff

The state says that diversified agriculture is one option being explored as an alternative for 28,000 acres of state land leased to Amfac/JMB Hawaii LLC's Kekaha Sugar Co.

"We are disappointed that Amfac/JMB has made the decision to shut down sugar operations on Kauai," said Gov. Ben Cayetano. "In anticipation of this turn of events, however, the state has been working on a transition plan with Sen. (Dan) Inouye's office, the U.S. Navy and various landowners and agricultural operators. These efforts have been ongoing for some time now," the governor said in a release.

Amfac/JMB Hawaii announced Friday that it will close its Kauai sugar operations by the end of the year. The company has already sold land at the edges of the plantation and is offering about 17,000 east Kauai acres for sale, much of which is forested.

Department of Land & Natural Resources Chairman Tim Johns said the department is encouraged that several potential users have emerged for the state land in west Kauai.

"We are optimistic that by partnering with the federal government, other landowners, and new or expanded agricultural users, we will be able to minimize the impact of this shutdown on the workers and their communities," Johns said. "We hope for a seamless transition over the next few months."

About 400 people will lose jobs in the shutdown. The state Department of Labor & Industrial Relations and Department of Human Services will assist the workers with counseling and help finding job training and employment opportunities.

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