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Posted on: July 6, 2022

Mayor Victorino selects Native Hawaiian homesteader to lead Department of Agriculture

Mayor Michael Victorino announced today his appointees for director and deputy director of the new County of Maui Department of Agriculture. They are:

  • Director Designee Rogerene “Kali” Arce, a Molokai resident and Hawaiian homesteader with more than three decades of experience in Hawaii’s agriculture industry. Her nomination is subject to confirmation by the Maui County Council.
  • Deputy Director Weston Yap, who most recently served as the Hawaii Produce Safety Program Manager with the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and has a decade of experience in food production, risk management and safety experience. The deputy director does not require Council confirmation.

“Putting leadership in place for this new department is an important step forward in restoring a viable, sustainable agriculture economy for Maui Nui and Hawaii,” Mayor Victorino said. “From the start, I directed my administration to ensure that the Department focuses its goals toward being an advocate for agriculture and not to add additional regulations and burdens on farmers and ranchers.”

The County of Maui Department of Agriculture officially launched July 1. In 2020, voters overwhelmingly approved a Maui County Charter amendment to create the new department.

“I am honored to have been selected by Mayor Victorino to lead this newly created department,” said Director Designee Arce. “Today we honor the will of the people and begin the work of creating a truly sustainable agricultural system for Maui County. Mayor Victorino has directed our department to help farmers and ranchers do what they do best -- put food on our tables and help us become more self-reliant.”

“I am confident the work of the Department will lead to more locally grown food for Maui residents,” Mayor Victorino added. “To do that, the department will listen carefully to local farmers and ranchers to determine what they need to thrive. For the future of agriculture to be bright in Maui County, we need to mentor our youth and show them that farming and ranching are rewarding careers for their families and the community.”

Advisory Selection Committee Member Bobby Pahia said: “I believe the leadership provided by Rogerene ‘Kali’ Arce and Weston Yap will get agriculture where it needs to go in Maui County. They have the education, experience and determination to oversee the important work of building this new department and make it a voice for positive change.”

The County’s new Department of Agriculture office is located on Kaohu Street next to the rear parking lot of Kalana O Maui (County Building).

For more information, see www.mauicounty.gov/2473/Department-of-Agriculture.

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