Ulupono Investing $17.5M in Hawaii Dairy Venture

December 3, 2013 06:56 AM
Ulupono Investing $17.5M in Hawaii Dairy Venture

Source: Associated Press

An investment company wants to revitalize Hawaii's dairy industry and increase local milk production by establishing a dairy farm on Kauai.

Ulupono Initiative is investing $17.5 million in a grass-fed dairy on 582 acres leased from Grove Farm Co.

The socially minded investment organization's venture would create the biggest dairy in the state and roughly double the supply of local milk, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

Most milk consumed in Hawaii comes from the mainland. Until 1984, local dairies produced all of Hawaii's milk. Most of those dairies are long gone.

Cloverleaf Dairy and Island Dairy on the Big Island are the only remaining large-scale local operations, producing about 9 percent of Hawaii's milk, according to the Star-Advertiser.

Ulupono hopes the dairy venture leads to more grass-fed dairies across the state.

"Following several years of studying the benefits of the grass-fed model to offset the volatile cost of imported feed, we believe that forming Hawaii Dairy Farms is an important step toward revitalizing our local dairy industry," general partner Kyle Datta said in a Garden Island newspaper story published Sunday. "This is integral to our mission to increase affordable and sustainable local food production."

Hawaii Dairy Farms will be based on a New Zealand pastoral dairy model that uses grass as the primary feed source, the Kauai newspaper reported.

Construction is expected to begin next year. Operations will be managed by Jim Garmatz, a dairyman with more than 25 years' experience, Ulopono said.

The venture plans to use about 1,800 cows and increase local milk production to 20 percent of the market, the Honolulu newspaper reported. Returning Hawaii to a 100 percent local milk supply would require an estimated 10,000 cows. 

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