Hawaii ranked among the top states in the nation with the most floriculture operations, according to the latest numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The state came in at the No. 8 spot on the list for most operations, with 291, but did not make the top list for highest sales, according to the report, which was released May 26.
“Hawaii’s growers are small family operations, also called boutique operations,” Eric Tanouye, president of Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association, said in a statement. “Hawaii has a small marketplace as compared to the U.S. Mainland. Some of us export to the U.S. Mainland, and that’s another layer of logistics and cost. ... Many of the Mainland growers have larger operations and can produce more sales from a larger marketplace.”
Across the U.S., the number of floriculture producers had a 6% decrease from the previous year but sales were up 4%, according to the report. “Hawaii, like the [Mainland] U.S., has an aging farmer issue,” Tanouye said. “According to the 2017 agricultural census, the average age of farmers in the U.S. was 60.1. That would 65+ today. We are seeing downsizing and closures today, and that will accelerate in the next five to 10 years. The basic law of supply and demand is at play. We have a shrinking supply and a growing demand, and with that comes higher prices.”
Issues facing the floriculture industry in Hawaii that aren’t as prevalent in other states include high import costs, since most of the fertilizers and other inputs are imported, according to Tanouye.
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