Commentary – Passage of HB 280 is Important for Hawaii Coffee Industry

Coffee is one of Hawaii’s signature products. The legendary Kona origin has been part of the mystique of Hawaii for nearly 200 years. High-quality Hawaiian coffee is a unique export crop in that it is almost exclusively grown on small family farms that help to support resilient rural communities. However the very success of Hawaii’s coffee has led to problems of counterfeiting that the coffee industry must address in order to protect the integrity of Hawaiian coffee in a global marketplace.

HB280 seeks to repeal mandatory coffee certification for quality standards while giving Hawaii’s valuable coffee origins more protection.

Deep budget cuts in 2009 set Hawaii’s Department of Agriculture on its heels, shrinking the department’s budget by 19%. Numerous positions were eliminated, including coffee inspectors. With the loss of all but one inspector position in Kona, the viability of the inspection service was crippled. This year’s growing season has been marked by increasing delays for inspection and certification. Coupled with impacts from Coffee Berry Borer, severe drought, and rising shipping costs, the coffee industry has reached a tipping point. Delays of up to four weeks hurt the industry, crimping cash flows to farmers and producers alike, strangling commerce.

The certification process has become a restrictive bottleneck, damaging the industry it was intended to protect. Inspector positions have not been restored notwithstanding industry efforts. The pain will continue if a remedy is not found. Our primary competition is not within our borders, but overseas where our wage and benefit burdens don’t exist. Long delays combined with relatively high production and shipping costs combine to make one of Hawaii’s signature crops less competitive in the global marketplace. Clearly a change is needed.

There are two aspects of coffee certification that inspections address: minimum quality standards and origin. Currently, in order to sell coffee as of Hawaiian origin, minimum quality standards must be met. Sophisticated buyers who pay the prices that Hawaiian coffees command typically request samples in advance. These samples are evaluated to a much higher standard than HDOA’s standards by panels of highly skilled, accredited cuppers with discerning palates. The ultimate arbiter of quality is the buyer. If coffee buyers are not demanding minimum quality certification by HDOA, HB280 will make quality certification voluntary. If they are, it would continue to be available on a fee-for-service basis.

Secondly is certification for origin. This inspection helps ensure that the coffee is accurately represented by the seller with respect to where it is grown. Maximum penalties are currently up to a $1,000 fine and up to one year in prison, or both, and enforcement lies with HDOA. These penalties are not having the necessary deterrent effect. A fine of $1,000 is less than the value of a single bag of quality Hawaiian green coffee and HDOA has never put anyone in jail.

Passage of HB280 would make false labeling (counterfeiting) of Hawaii-grown coffee a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to five years in prison. The bill provides for enhanced record keeping and reporting and gives law enforcement statutory authority to enforce the laws. HB280 gives Hawaii’s valuable coffee origins more protection than they have ever had before; certainly more than what exists today. The ability for producers to opt out of minimum quality certification will reduce HDOA’s workload, eliminate delays and help rural locations that have been historically underserved by inspectors.

It’s important to note that Hawaii’s current certification rules do not regulate roasted coffee nor any coffee not moved out of the growing region. If the market can voluntarily regulate quality in these trading environments, the same is true at other levels.

While much of Hawaii’s coffee is produced on small family farms, large scale production is also found on plantations located on Maui, Kauai, Molokai and Oahu. Given this diverse spectrum of producers, it’s uncommon when such a broad array of stakeholders agrees upon any issue. This is one of those landmark occasions when growers and producers, large and small, government and law enforcement agree on a solution.

HB 280 is less costly, improves Hawaii’s competiveness, helps rural underserved locations and protects Hawaii’s valuable origins better than ever before.

That sounds like a change for the better.

Chris Manfredi

Ka’u Farm Bureau

This opinion is endorsed by the collective membership of the Hawaii Coffee Association, Kona Coffee Council, Hawaii Coffee Growers Association and the Maui Coffee Association.

Quarterly Summary of State & Local Tax Revenue

The Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue provides quarterly estimates of state and local government tax revenue at a national level, as well as detailed tax revenue data for individual states.  This quarterly survey has been conducted continuously since 1962. The information contained in this survey is the most current information available on a nationwide basis for government tax collections.

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The Local Non-property Tax Survey has been redesigned. A new sample was designed and selected to replace the nonprobability sample used in the past. The first quarter for 2012 presents data from the new sample. Estimates released in the past used the old methodology. We have provided a report that contains the bridge between the old and new units for the fourth quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2012. You can access this publication, #2012-3, here [PDF, 220KB] or at the following web page: http://www.census.gov/prod/www/abs/govern.html

Quarterly Tax Information Sheet [PDF, 565KB]

Table 1 – Latest National Totals of State & Local Taxes

Table 1 of the Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue provides national totals of state and local government tax revenue for current and prior quarters, as well as 12-month calculations.

The First Quarter 2012 data were released on June 26, 2012.

  • Downloadable Data [EXCEL, 46KB]
  • Table 1a TQRR [EXCEL, 29KB]
  • Table 1b CVs [EXCEL, 31KB]
  • Table 1c Margin of Error [EXCEL, 31KB]

 

Table 2 – Latest National Totals of State Tax Revenue

Table 2 of the Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue provides national totals of state government tax revenue for current and prior quarters, as well as 12-month calculations.

The First Quarter 2012 data were released on June 26, 2012.

  • Downloadable Data [EXCEL, 54KB]

 

Table 3 – Latest State Tax Collections by State

Table 3 of the Quarterly Summary of State and Local Government Tax Revenue provides state government tax collections by state and by type of tax for the current quarter.

The First Quarter 2012 data were released on June 26, 2012.

  • Downloadable Data [EXCEL, 108KB]

 

A Special Note Concerning Revised Data

Revisions reflect tax collection amounts obtained from three general sources. State and local government respondents have submitted revisions to amounts as originally reported. In other cases, governments have reported data, which we used to replace data that were previously imputed or estimated. Finally, some of the revisions were compiled from government sources, both published and unpublished. Current revisions are noted in each table by an “R” or, for Table 3, by a label next to the applicable figure, for appropriate quarters.

Wordless Wednesday – Smile Enjoy Life

Richard Smart Fund Grants Now Available to the Waimea Community

Hawai’i Community Foundation announced today that grants benefiting the Waimea community on Hawai’i Island are now available through the Ho’ohui ‘O Waimea grant program.  The deadline for submitting applications is on August 13, 2012.

The grant program was established in honor of Richard Smart, a philanthropist who gave generously to support education, healthcare, culture and the arts and other charitable activities for the Waimea community. Smart’s legacy continues to support the community and lifestyle that he loved, a community where people know each other and care about maintaining the special qualities of Waimea.

The Hawai’i Community Foundation encourages residents and community organizations to submit grant proposals that help to make Waimea a better place to live.  Proposals may include (but are not limited to):

  • Community volunteerism and/or the scope of volunteer opportunities
  • Raising awareness of local civic issues affecting the residents
  • Collaboration between nonprofit organizations
  • Participation in community-building activities
  • Increasing communication between long-time and newer residents

To be eligible for a grant of up to $10,000, a group must be a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization – such as schools, units of government or neighborhood groups– or have a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor. Community organizations without 501(c)(3) status are eligible to apply for a grant up to $2,000, provided the activities to be supported are charitable.

Grants proposals must benefit the Waimea community and can include ongoing or one-time events. Grants awarded will be for a 12 month project.

Proposal information is available at www.hawaii.communityfoundation.org. All proposals should be mailed to Hawai’i Community Foundation, Attention: Richard Smart Fund, 827 Fort Street Mall, Honolulu, HI 96813 and must be post-marked on or before August 13, 2012.

In the first round of Ho’ohui ‘O Waimea grants in 2012, the following organizations received awards:

  • Big Island Mediation – in support of Community Mediation
  • Five Mountains Hawai’i – in support of Lifeplan Youth Leaders of Waimea
  • Friends of the Future – in support of the Better Choices program
  • Hawai’i Preparatory Academy – in support of the Hoku a’Aina Global Sustainability Local Applicability – Go Green Hui
  • North Hawai’i Community Hospital – in support of the Senior Fair
  • North Hawai’i Women and Children’s Services – in support of Summer Academic Enrichment Camps
  • The Earl & Doris Bakken Foundation – in support of the North Hawai’i Outcomes Project
  • The Kohala Center – in support of the Kohala Watershed Partnership Community Volunteer Program
  • The Kohala Center – in support of the Science and Technology High School for the Waimea Community
  • Waimea Preservation Association – in support of Coqui Free Waimea

About Hawai’i Community Foundation
With 95 years of community service, the Hawai’i Community Foundation is the leading philanthropic institution in the state.  The Foundation is a steward of more than 600 funds, including more than 160 scholarship funds, created by donors who desire to transform lives and improve communities.  In 2011, more than $44 million in grants and contracts were distributed statewide.  The Foundation also serves as a resource on community issues and trends in the nonprofit sector.