Threat by Meadow Gold could put last dairy farms out to pasture - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Threat by Meadow Gold could put last dairy farms out to pasture

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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Meadow Gold calls itself 'Hawaii's Dairy' but only 20% of the milk it distributes is local, and if the state doesn't change pricing rules soon, the company won't buy any, putting the last two Hawaii dairy farms out of business.

"This law has helped to keep the farmers solvent," says Ed Boteilho of Cloverleaf Dairy on the Big Island, the smaller of the two farms. Boteilho says he can't afford to sell his product at lower prices and is against the state giving in to Meadow Gold's threat.

"If they allow this to go through, I'm nobody," says Boteilho.

Meadow Gold, which is owned by a mainland company, told the state it can't compete with other companies like Costco bringing in prepackaged milk.

Scott Enright, the chair of the state Board of Agriculture says the threat is real.

"This department believes that Dean foods, the owner of Meadow Gold, is serious when they say they can no longer, as a serious business strategy, buy milk at prices above what the market will bear," says Enright, who is in favor of relaxing the rule so that the company doesn't leave altogether.

There is an emergency meeting planned for Monday.

If the state approves the rule change, then only two farms can apply for a price waiver.

An emergency meeting Tuesday will then address any of those requests.

If the rule isn't changed, Meadow Gold could stop buying Hawaii milk soon.

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