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Saturday, March 18, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Saturday, March 18, 2023

Leo Norberte, winner of the 2022 Hawai'i Coffee Association's cupping contest for Kaʻū, is one of the
many Hawaiian coffee farmers who depend on truth in labeling to keep their 100 percent Hawaiian grown brands
 viable in the market. Photo by Julia Neal

THE TRUTH IN LABELING BILL FOR COFFEE GROWN IN HAWAI'I passed second reading in the state House of Representatives on Friday after passing the Senate and is apparently headed toward becoming law. Senate Bill 745 would extend the offense of false labeling of Hawai'i-grown coffee to include roasted coffee, impose a $10,000 fine for each separate offense of false labeling of Hawai'i-grown coffee, and make an appropriation to fund enforcement. Kaʻū's Sen. Dru Kanuha co-introduced the measure.
    Executive Director of Hawai'i Coffee Association, Chris Manfredi, sent in testimony in support. "Hawai'i’s growers work tirelessly to produce some of the finest coffee grown anywhere. Exceptionally high quality is vital so producers can earn a relatively high price for their products - to stay in business, pay their employees and feed their families. When they visit the supermarket, they are

outraged that counterfeit Hawai'i grown coffee is offered on the same shelves as their own at a price less than their cost of production.
    "Unethical sellers introduce foreign grown coffee into the market to defraud consumers by representing these fakes as Hawai'i-grown products. Hawai'i’s coffee growers are squeezed between a high cost of production and unfair price competition. Moreover, these inferior fakes do not share the same quality attributes of the genuine product, further undermining Hawai'i’s reputation and brands, and they are not required to comply with Hawai'i’s minimum grade standards. When someone cashes in on our hard-fought reputation by offering fake products in a package labeled as being of Hawaiian origin, it undermines the work of our entire industry."
     Volcano resident Marsha Hee wrote: "This bill closes an important loophole where counterfeiters have been escaping oversight. By granting Hawai'i Department of Agriculture the ability to verify the authenticity of a roasted coffee’s origin, it opens the door for better enforcement and higher profits to farmers. The less counterfeit coffee in the marketplace, the greater the demand for real Hawaiian coffee."
    Sharon Hurd, Chair of the state Board of Agriculture, wrote: "DOA supports the appropriation of funds to hire one full time measurement standards specialist/inspector (approximate appropriation request of
$100,000) for the purpose of labeling and packaging enforcement and inspection. The inspector will help rebuild DOA’s capability to address labeling enforcement challenges in various Hawai'i products especially with roasted coffee. The inspector will take the lead in researching and utilizing new recognized testing measures to identify different products geographically such as Oritain technology (https://oritain.com), which can generate science-based data from specific coffee growing regions as a proof and confirmation of truth or false labeling."
  Suzanne Shriner, Administrator of Synergistic Hawai'i Agriculture Council wrote: "SHAC receives Federal marketing funds to promote 100% Hawaiian origin products around the world, including coffee, papaya, floriculture and macadamia nuts. Frequently we find that the demand for 100% Hawaiian products far exceeds available supply. Quite simply, there is not enough Kona, Kaʻū or Maui coffee to meet the global desire for Hawaiian coffee. This makes our coffees highly vulnerable to counterfeiting.
    "We appreciate the Legislature working with the coffee industry through protection of origin products from cherry all the way through roasted coffee. The technology exists to test the authenticity of both grade and origin of Hawaiian coffee. Enforcement of this bill is expected to be on an as-needed basis, such as a consumer complaint. Having said that, inclusion of a FTE position is necessary to protect coffee and other crops from fraud."
    Hawai'i Farm Bureau Executive Director Brian Miyamoto noted: "Hawai'i-grown coffee is recognized
for its high quality and aromatic flavor. Hawaiʿ'i-grown coffee is held to a set of quality standards that makes it one of the most expensive coffees in the world. It is one of Hawai'i’s signature crops. The 2021-2022 USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS) of Hawai'i Agriculture estimated the value of Hawaiʿi-grown coffee at $61.9 million and ranked as coffee fifth in the top twenty agricultural commodities in the State." Miyamoto testified that "in addition to the geographic origin, stricter enforcement of the labeling restrictions based on the quality of the coffee being sold is critical to prevent further counterfeiting of Hawaiʿi’s recognized high-quality coffee. Furthermore, the criminal penalties for false labeling should apply not only to cherry, parchment, and green coffee but also to roasted coffee."
    Hawai'i Farmers Union President Kaipo Kekono testified: "We believe that it is time for Hawai'i's coffee industry to have the same protections as the many other agricultural industries in the state. We understand that honest labeling in the coffee industry is widely regarded as important in maintaining trust among consumers, and this bill will help ensure that all coffee labeled as Hawai'i Grown is actually grown in the islands. This level of transparency is necessary in order to protect the reputation of Hawai'i’s coffee industry."
    For earlier testimony submitted on this issue, see http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023_02_21_archive.html and http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023/02/kau-news-briefs-tuesday-feb-28-2023.html

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A MAC NUT LABELING BILL THAT PASSED THE STATE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND FIRST READING IN THE SENATE was scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate on Friday, but the hearing was delayed. The delay may indicate it will not be heard at all this legislative session in the Senate. It would need passage by the Senate after succeeding in the House in order to become Hawai'i law.
    The measure, introduced in the Senate by Kaʻū's Sen. Dru Kanuha, would clarify labeling requirements for macadamia nuts, mandating that country of origin to be included on the principal display panel of a consumer package of raw and processed macadamia nuts.
    Crissa Uluwehi Midori Okamura wrote: "The legislature threw out the bill HB1348 (3/17/23). Our 'ohana put in our testimonies but to no avail! Very sad for our local farmers & upsetting to know they will sell under the premise of 'Being MADE in Hawai'i' when mac nuts come from Africa!!! Like sugarcane, soon macadamia will be gone too."
    See more testimony at http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023_03_14_archive.html.

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Palila, the endangered finch-billed honeycreepers, were found in most mamane dry forest trees on this island. Photo from DLNR

HAWAI'I'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION IS URGING THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE to prioritize its efforts to protect critically endangered Native Hawaiian forest birds. A letter from Sen. Mazie Hirono, Sen. Brian Schatz, Rep. Ed Case and Rep. Jill Tokuda asks NPS to use funding from the Inflation Reduction Act passed last year to continue efforts to protect native forest birds.

    The letter to National Park Service Director Charles Sams says, "Native Hawaiian forest birds are

imperiled by the spread of avian malaria, which is carried into their last remaining habitat and transmitted to the birds by invasive mosquitoes. Warming temperatures due to climate change have allowed mosquitoes to reach elevations that were previously refuge for the birds. Avian malaria caused waves of extinctions after it was introduced in the early 1900s and the continued impacts have been tracked for decades by researchers, land managers, and cultural practitioners alike.
    "As pollinators and seed dispersal agents, Hawaiian honeycreepers fill an irreplaceable niche within Hawai'i's native forests, which are the source of all our islands' freshwater. Four Hawaiian honeycreepers are at risk of extinction within the next ten years: akikiki ~1 year; kiwikiu ~6 years; akekee ~8 years; and akohekohe ~10 years. If we lose these special birds, we also lose the essential roles they perform within the native ecosystem and a piece of Hawaiian culture. Unless we take significant action now, they will be gone forever."
     The letter urges the Park Service to concentrate on reducing avian malaria with mosquito suppression programs.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest print edition at kaucalendar.com, in the mail and on stands.

In the mail and on stands.


St. Jude's Hot Meals are free to those in need on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until food runs out, no later than noon. Volunteers from the community are welcome to help and can contact Karen at pooch53@gmail.com. Location is 96-8606 Paradise Circle Drive in Ocean View. Those in need can also take hot showers from 9 a.m. to noon and use the computer lab from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Free Meals Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are served from 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Nā'ālehu Hongwanji. Volunteers prepare the food provided by 'O Ka'ū Kākou with fresh produce from its gardens on the farm of Eva Liu, who supports the project. Other community members also make donations and approximately 150 meals are served each day.


Volcano Evening Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village, Thursdays, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with live music, artisan crafts, ono grinds, and fresh produce. See facebook.com.

Volcano Swap Meet, fourth Saturday of the month from 8 a.m. to noon. Large variety of vendors with numerous products. Tools, clothes, books, toys, local made healing extract and creams, antiques, jewelry, gemstones, crystals, food, music, plants, fruits, and vegetables. Also offered are cakes, coffee, and shave ice. Live music.                                                                                                                                  Volcano Farmers Market, Cooper Center, Volcano Village on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., with local produce, baked goods, food to go, island beef and Ka'ū Coffee. EBT is used for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly Food Stamps. Call 808-967-7800.

O Ka'ū Kākou Market, Nā'ālehu, Wednesdays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Contact Nadine Ebert at 808-938-5124 or June Domondon 808-938-4875. See facebook.com/OKauKakouMarket.

Ocean View Community Market, Saturdays and Wednesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., corner Kona Dr. Drive and Hwy 11, near Thai Grindz. Masks mandatory. 100-person limit, social distancing required. Gate unlocked for vendors at 5:30 a.m., $15 dollars, no rez needed. Parking in the upper lot. Vendors must provide their own sanitizer. Food vendor permits required. Carpooling is encouraged.