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The Conversation: U.S. Agriculture Secretary on Loan Forgiveness for Minority Farmers

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U.S. Agriculture Secretary on loan forgiveness for minority farmers; Hawaii Supreme Court ruling on Big Island bioenergy plant; Surveying domestic travelers; Early childhood behavioral health

U.S. Agriculture Secretary on loan forgiveness for minority farmers | American Rescue Plan Link

Credit U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

In less than a week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will roll out a program to forgive the debt of some 16,000 minority farmers. About 300 farmers of Pacific Islander and Asian descent are here in Hawai‘i. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with us from Washington. 

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

Supreme Court ruling on Big Island bioenergy plant | Full Article

The Hawaii Supreme Court has remanded the case involving a Big Island bioenergy plant back to the Public Utilities Commission. We talked to Warren Lee, head of Honua Ola--formerly known as Hu Honua--about what this could mean for the green energy project that has been delayed for two years due to legal challenges.

Warren Lee
Warren Lee, head of Honua Ola

Reality Check with Civil Beat: Oahu's agricultural lands | Full Article

Honolulu Civil Beat’s featured story has to do with a process to protect Oahu’s best agricultural lands. But "many property owners are angry, saying they’ve been caught by surprise and that the city has blundered," reporter Stewart Yerton reported. 

Reality Check on May 25, 2021
Honolulu Civil Beat reporter Stewart Yerton

Surveying domestic travelers

Credit jed_ant from Pixabay

The steady stream of travelers seems to indicate that the rebound of our visitor industry may happen sooner than expected. We reached out to Chris Kam, the head of Omnitrak--a market researching group that surveys travelers and gathers information about tourism trends. 

Chris Kam
Chris Kam, president and COO of Omnitrak

Early childhood behavioral health | The Parent Line | Aloha United Way | Family Hui Hawaii | Nest for Families

Mental Health Awareness Month comes to a close next week Monday, but the work to bring awareness to the importance of mental health, especially with our keiki, will continue. One effort that’s just getting started is the rollout of the “Integrated Infant and Early Childhood Behavioral Health Plan.” It’s a collaboration between several local government and non-government agencies, to centralize the information for services available to help parents address their child’s mental, social and emotional health. Kerrie Urosevich from Hawaii’s Early Childhood Action Strategy told us more.

Kerrie Urosevich
Kerrie Urosevich of Hawaii’s Early Childhood Action Strategy


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Catherine Cruz is the Host of The Conversation and a member of HPR’s news team. She has been a television reporter in Hawai‘i since 1983 and has won a number of awards and respect from a statewide audience. She spent more than thirty years at KITV, covering beats from government to education and health. Originally from Guam, Cruz is also a co-founder and former Board member and programming chair of Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC). Catherine is a graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.
Russell Subiono has been with Hawai‘i Public Radio since 2019. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, TV, and radio. He got his start at HPR as a Production Assistant on The Conversation from 2016-2017. Prior to his return, he spent two years as a producer at KITV4 Island News, where he oversaw Hawai‘i’s only hour-long evening broadcast. He also served as HPR’s Fund Drive Producer for two years before returning to The Conversation as Executive Producer. In the moments when he’s not working at the station, you can find him visiting donut shops, making top-5 lists, and developing comedy videos that never get made.
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