Email opposes Ag Board appointee - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Email opposes Ag Board appointee

Richard Ha Richard Ha
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Big Island state Sen. Russell Ruderman believes the State Department of Agriculture would be better off if Hamakua farmer Richard Ha was left off the Board of Agriculture.

"My concern is he has expressed some antagonism towards the organic industry, and he's extremely pro GMO," Ruderman said.

"He can say that but that doesn't make it true," Ha said.

Recently Ruderman sent out a private email that someone leaked to the Hawaii Tribune Herald.

"If any of you share my revulsion at Richard Ha being appointed to the State Ag Board, it's not too late to do something," he wrote.

Ha believes the email is inflammatory.

"It was a poor choice of words and possibly inciting people," he said.

Ruderman also wrote that "if each senator gets 100 emails in opposition this will not fly."

The Senate Agriculture Committee is handling Ha's hearing. Committee chairman Clarence Nishihara said Ruderman went behind his back.

"There's a number of all of us that would not do that as a matter of practice, to go and send out emails to people saying, 'Hey, bring down someone,'" he said.

Ha was appointed to the Agriculture Board in 2010. He's up for another term. He supports the science behind GMOs as a means to food security.

"My agenda is try to lower cost for the farmers as well as the customers of those farmers," Ha said.

Ruderman owns health food stores on the Big Island that sell organic food. He said he didn't intend his email as a personal attack on Ha.

"He's a good person. I like him personally, and I deeply regret my choice of words. And I apologize to him for using any unpleasant words," he said.

How Ruderman's words might affect the Ha's status could surface Thursday when Ha goes before the Agriculture committee.


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