Maui County Council on Tuesday confirmed Rorene “Kali” Arce as the first director of the county’s Department of Agriculture.
Arce was appointed by Mayor Michael Victorino earlier this summer to lead the new department, which officially launched on July 1. Since then, she has met with farmers and ranchers in Maui, Molokai and Lanai to learn about their needs, according to a county news release. .
“I love my job,” Arce said in the statement. “As someone who has supported the agriculture industry for 30 years in Molokai in various capacities, I understand and appreciate the challenges and rewards of working in agriculture.”
Arce is a Hawaiian farmer originally from Hoolehua on Molokai who has more than three decades of farming experience, according to the statement. The department she will lead is charged with helping farmers and ranchers succeed, rather than serving as a regulatory or enforcement entity.
The department was created after Maui County voters in 2020 overwhelmingly supported a charter amendment to create a new branch of county government for that purpose. Other goals include promoting a resilient and diverse local economy, increasing food security and improving the health of residents by expanding access to locally grown foods.
“We want our farmers and ranchers to succeed at what they do best: bringing fresh food to our tables while reducing our reliance on faraway places for what’s for dinner,” Arce said in the statement. .
Coverage of Maui County by Civil Beat is funded in part by grants from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation and the Fred Baldwin Memorial Foundation.