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Sunday, March 19, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Sunday, March 19, 2023

Kaʻū Coffee Growers Cooperative President Gloria Camba and Bong Aquino, two of many farmers who recently purchased
 the coffee lands where they have been building a reputation for decades growing high quality Kaʻū Coffee. The coffees' value,
say supporters of truth in labeling, can be diminished when buyers dilute the local coffee with cheap foreign beans.
Photo from Kaʻū Coffee Festival

MORE TRUTH-IN-LABELING COFFEE LEGISLATION is up for a public hearing. The hearing is this Tuesday, March 21 at 9:55 a.m. before the state Senate Commerce & Consumer Protection Committee. It is the only Senate committee that has scheduled a hearing the matter. It already passed the House of Representatives as HB 259. Kaʻū's member of the House of Representatives Jeanne Kapela co-introduced the measure.
    HB259 provides for a phased-in 51% minimum of Hawaii-grown content, and label identification of the percentage of foreign-grown coffee included in all Hawaiian coffee blended with foreign coffee. For example, if 49% is foreign-grown coffee, the label would make full disclosure of all the coffee origins to consumers. 
    Citizens can give live Zoom testimony by signing up when submitting written testimony on the website. To testify, read the text of the bill, committee reports and all testimony, see https://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/session/measure_indiv.aspx?billtype=HB&billnumber=259&year=2023&mc_cid=637e587ec3&mc_eid=563999cc96
    Chair of the state Board of Agriculture Sharon Hurd gave testimony on HB259: "This measure prohibits using geographic origins of coffee in labeling or advertising for roasted or instant coffee that contains less than a certain percentage of coffee by weight from that geographic origin, phased in to a minimum of 51 percent after 7/1/2025." It prohibits use of the term All Hawaiian in labeling and advertising for roasted or instant coffee not produced entirely from green coffee beans grown and processed in Hawai'i. 
    Jeffrey Clark, Chief Operating Officer for Edmund C. Olson Trust, which owns and operates Kaʻū Coffee Mill and coffee orchards, sells only 100% Kaʻū Coffee. He wrote: "I can see the devastating result of blended coffees on the Hawai'i-grown coffee industry. Blended coffees, using as little as 10% of Hawaiian coffee, creates a real problem for local farmers. Blended coffees do not provide the consumer with the proper taste profile and mislead the consumer about the region's flavor qualities. Blended coffees also depress the price of 100% Hawaii-grown coffees... Products need to be properly labeled to inform the consumer not only of the percentage of Hawai'i-grown coffee, but also the percentage of foreign-grown coffee." 
    Clark noted that the coffee industry in Hawai'i started over 100 years ago and represents one of the largest crops grown in the state of Hawai'i. "Hawai'i farmers have built a reputation for growing high quality, specialty coffees that command premium prices. Blenders have taken advantage of this reputation" by blending Hawai'i-grown coffee with lower quality, cheaper coffees from elsewhere, said Clark.
    Hawai'i Farmers Union United stated that "Coffee farmers have been seeking these changes for more than 30 years. And consumers deserve full and clear disclosure of what is in the package."
     Hawai'i's Thousand Friends sent in testimony saying, "Farmers who produce high-quality coffee in a
local region deserve the right to defend their area brand by requiring that coffee sold under a local regional name contains at least 51% of coffee grown from that region. Allowing anything less neither support nor appreciates Hawai'i's coffee farmers and the value of their product."
    Bruce Silverglade, former legal director of Center for Science in the Public Interest and fulltime Hawai'i resident, wrote: "At the present time, coffee blenders in Hawai'i are engaging in what food regulatory lawyers call economic adulteration, i.e. diluting a premium product with inferior coffee varieties. Such practices have long plagued segments of the food industry since the days that unscrupulous businesses would sell watered-down milk."
     He also testified: "This measure is essential to protect consumers, ranging from Hawai'i residents to unsuspecting visitors to the islands. The goodwill generated from this requirement to prevent non-misleading labeling will benefit the State of Hawai'i, protect the general public and ensure fair treatment of
coffee farmers. 
    "Some parties opposed to the bill say it will be difficult to enforce given the lack of technological capacity in the State to test blended coffees to determine their authenticity. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration faced an analogous challenge when it promulgated regulations requiring the amount of 'added,' as opposed to naturally occurring, sugars to be listed on the Nutrition Facts label. It was argued that testing methods could not distinguish between naturally occurring and added sugars in a product like apple sauce. 
    "The U.S. Food & Drug Administration solved the problem by requiring food processors to keep and maintain records as to the amounts of added sugars they were using. The same type of record keeping requirement could be instituted for food manufacturers engaged in coffee blending. The State could require records to be kept and made available for inspection. This approach would help ensure that the bill is enforceable."
    To read more testimony submitted on truth in labeling for Hawaiian coffee, see http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023_03_18_archive.html,   http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023_02_21_archive.html and http://kaunewsbriefs.blogspot.com/2023/02/kau-news-briefs-tuesday-feb-28-2023.html
Hawai'i Island has 14 new Conservation Resources Enforcement Officers who just graduated from a class of 41 recruits. They are expected to beef up protection of natural resources in remote places like Kaʻū.  Photo from DLNR

FOURTEEN NEW HAWAI'I CONSERVATION RESOURCES ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS are assigned to Hawai'i Island. These CREOs are among the 41 women and men in the largest recruit class in the history of the state Department of Land & Natural Resources' Division of Conservation & Resources Enforcement. The class was sworn in and commissioned in a ceremony at Leeward Community College on Friday and presented commission certificates and badges.
    DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla said, “If you combine the skills of a police officer, game warden, park ranger, marine patrol officer, educator, medic and counselor, that’s a DOCARE officer. These officers have a broad skillset and the academy was the vehicle to get them equipped so they can best serve Hawai‘i in protecting its natural and cultural resources.”
    DOCARE Lt. Carlton Helm, who led the academy, said, “To the visitor mindset, Hawai‘i’s natural resources are elements of paradise – clear ocean waters, sandy beaches, warm sun, tropical fish, but to residents with ties to this place it means a lot more, it’s our identity. Without the resources, little by little, we start to lose that identity. CREOs are committed to our communities and to protecting our resources.”
Carlton Helm led the academy to train new
Conservation Resources Enforcement officers.
    The class trained for more than eight months in more than 100 disciplines combining classroom work and intense field exercises. The new CREOs deploy to O‘ahu (14), Hawai‘i Island (14), Maui (7), and Kaua‘i (6). "Their presence is expected to make an immediate impact in conservation enforcement and will bolster patrol needs and staff ranks," says a statement from DLNR.
    DLNR Chair Dawn Chang said, “I’m greatly appreciative for the kuleana that these men and women have accepted. I welcome them to the DLNR ‘Ohana.” Other speakers at the graduation included Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz, and Lt. Oscar Diaz (DPS Retired). The graduates’ family members participated to pin badges on the officers’ uniforms.
    CREO duties include enforcing rules and laws, educating residents and visitors and interacting with the community. DOCARE officers cover large geographic areas, often working independently with little or no oversight. According to DLNR, "They’re expected to command a firm understanding of natural resource laws, and to work in challenging conditions on land and at sea.
    "The academy program is a community effort with stakeholders including Honolulu Community College, elected officials, DLNR and other state department leadership, conservation nonprofits, subject
matter experts, other partner organizations, and residents. The program is unique in that it offers both a public safety and a natural resources component.
    "Recruits who have no law or conservation enforcement experience are developed into competent officers, learning skills to perform the job and keeping the values of kuleana, community service, and being pono, top of mind."
     Next for these newly commissioned CREOs is their field-training phase, working alongside seasoned officers at their respective island posts. They will have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned, with guidance, in real world situations. “Learning in a classroom is one thing,” Helm explained. “Having role players and stopping to provide remedial training for the sake of recruit development is good, but in the real world there are no timeouts. That’s where the seasoned officers come in – to provide support, safety, and proper direction if need be.”

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.