It seems that Hawaiians are not very fond of cattle, at least not in their own backyard.
And who can blame them?
If it comes to a choice between the scent of sweet tropical flowers mingled in the clean mist of soft ocean breezes and that of cow dung, pretty much everyone would opt for the prior.
So when eBay founder Pierre Omidyar announced late last year that he was planning to establish a dairy farm along the Maha’ulepu coast on the island of Kauai, the locals took to the streets in protest.
Granted, the island of Kauai does have a severe milk shortage and is heavily dependent on imports to supply its dairy needs, and Omidyar has promised to use only sustainable, state-of-the-art agricultural practices.
But, at the end of the day, no matter how you may try to respin it, cattle defecation inevitably smells like cattle defecation.
Consequently, the people of Kauai have coined a slogan that is now going viral: “No Moo Moo in Maha’ulepu.”
There are a few small cattle ranches already on the island, but not nearly as large as Omidyar’s proposed 700-head spread, and not nearly as close to Kauai’s posh seaside resorts (just a mile down the beach from the would-be farm).
Tourism, is after all, the main bread and butter of Hawaii’s fourth-largest island, and most of the vacationers who come there are not exactly looking for a dude ranch holiday.
The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa has already successfully sued for a legal injunction to halt the farm’s operations until a thorough environmental assessment can be conducted.
And there are legitimate concerns that animal waste could contaminate drinking water sources and pollute the oceanfront.
But, so far, Omidyar is holding his agricultural ground and stubbornly moving ahead with his dairy farm project.
Omidyar’s argument that the region desperately needs to increase its food production (about 90 percent of Hawaii’s foodstuff is currently imported) is valid, and Governor David Y. Ige is backing him on that point, having pledged to double the state’s agricultural output by the year 2020.
But, food shortage or not, the people of Kauai would rather that Omidyar pack up his cows and go elsewhere.
The eBay billionaire, who moved his family to Kauai in the early 2000s, has already had a few unpleasant run-ins with the natives, who, five years ago, blocked him from opening a resort hotel on the north end of the island because of its possible negative environmental impact.
Needless to say, Omidyar is not a popular figure in Kauai, and chances are he isn’t going to get the necessary permits he needs to open his dairy farm there.
So what will he end up doing with his 700 heads of cattle?
Maybe he can sell them on eBay.
Thérèse Margolis can be reached at [email protected]