When the gavel fell, Hawaii's dairy debate was on!
On one side of the Hawaii Milk Act, Big Island Dairy. The company wants to change the law to allow milk producers to sell milk at prices below state set minimums.
"We've always called the minimum prices milk. Well, actually, it's a fixed price milk act," said State Whitesides, owner of Big Island Dairy.
The other side -- smaller producers like Cloverleft Dairy and Mauna Kea Moo who say they system works.
"This has protected us all these years so this is an important act," said Ed Boteilho of Cloverleaf Dairy.
Big Island Dairy is expanding its facilities looking to produce 18,000 gallons a day, three times its current production. Because of that, the owner says he wants to lower the milk prices to make it more attractive to the state's only dairy processor Meadow Gold.
"The processor is not required to pay the quoted prices. He's not required to receive my milk if he can find milk cheaper somewhere else. That's my concern for this amendment,' said Whitesides.
But, other farmers say changing a law meant to make the equal playing field would force the little guys out of business.
"Why do we need something like this where one party can come in and basically, because of their size and control. I disagree with that emphatically!" exclaimed Boteilho.
Although the Board of Agriculture had enough votes to pass the amendment, it chose to defer the decision while an investigative committee looks at the impacts of changing the Milk Act. It's a move neither side feels sour about.
"I think it's a great way to look at it as far. That way the board can feel comfortable with what we're trying to ask for," said Whitesides.
Boteilho said, "I think it's a good decision. It gives the board time. More time to think about what they are trying to do and address it properly."
The board says they will unveil their findings at their next meeting. Even if the measure does pass, there's no guarantee it will lower milk prices for the general public.