Maui County’s soon-to-be established Department of Agriculture, which voters created in November 2020, is seeking a director and deputy director.

The hire will be the next step in the 16-month process of establishing the department by July.

Mayor Michael Victorino is recruiting agricultural stalwarts to lead the agency in the implementation of the department’s core goals of making the island more self-reliant in food and stronger economically.

Victorino has allocated nearly $1.4 million to the department for the coming year, according to his proposed budget, along with eight positions within the department.

Some farmers were supportive of the charter amendment to create Maui’s Department of Agriculture, while one farmers association on Maui opposed it. Hawaii Farm Bureau

The mayor formed a working group last year to guide the formation of the department. The group was comprised of representatives from ranching, horticulture, retail and research.

It would then be the director’s role to set the course, Victorino said.

“The first director and deputy director will set the strategic direction for this important department,” he said in a release Tuesday. “Agriculture is crucial for Maui County’s need to become more self-reliant both in terms of food security and as a pivotal economic sector.”

Victornio has said the department’s formation would help relieve the county’s dependence on hospitality and diversify its economy. In a March 5 column for The Maui News, he wrote: “Now is the time for agriculture to return to its former place of prominence in our post-pandemic economy.”

Victorino initially opposed the formation of the department. The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Hawaii Grown” is funded in part by grants from the Ulupono Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and the Frost Family Foundation. 

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