Ball Python Found in Hilo

 A live ball python snake was captured in Hilo early Monday morning by an American Medical Response ambulance crew. The snake, measuring about 4 feet long  and weighing about 3 pounds, was found near the Old Airport Road and taken to Hawaii County police. The police then contacted a plant quarantine inspector with the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) at about 2 a.m. The snake is currently being safeguarded at the Hilo Plant Quarantine Office. Staff at the Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo determined that the snake is a sexually immature female ball python.

Ball Python found in Hilo. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

On June 27, 2020 HDOA inspectors were informed of a Facebook post with a photo of a snake in that area. Quarantine inspectors conducted nightly searches through last week and also deployed traps, but were not able to find the snake. The captured snake appears to be consistent with the photo that was posted on Facebook.

In Oct. 2019, a 3-foot-long ball python was captured by a resident who ran over it near the same area.

In June 2018, a 4 ½-foot-long ball python was found at the South Hilo Sanitary Landfill by county workers.

Ball Python found in Hilo. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Ball pythons are non-venomous and may grow up to six feet in length. They are common in the pet trade on the mainland and are native to Western and West-Central Africa. Ball pythons are constrictors that subdue prey by coiling around and suffocating it. Its diet usually consists of small mammals and birds.

Snakes have no natural predators in Hawai`i and pose a serious threat to Hawai`i’s environment because they compete with native animal populations for food and habitat. Many species, such as the ball python, prey on birds and bird eggs, increasing the threat to our endangered native bird species. Large snakes may also be a threat to the health and safety of humans, pets and other domestic animals.

Ball Python found in Hilo. PC: Hawaii Department of Agriculture

Snakes are illegal to import and/or possess in Hawai`i. Individuals who have illegal animals are encouraged to turn them in under the amnesty program.. If illegal animals are turned in prior to the start of an investigation, no criminal charges or civil penalties will be pursued. Any illegal animal may be dropped off at any HDOA Office, local Humane Society or at municipal zoos. Animals turned in under amnesty will not be euthanized.

Individuals possessing illegal animals may be charged with a class C felony, issued fines of up to $200,000, and may be sentenced to up to five years in prison. Anyone with information on illegal animals should call the State’s toll-free PEST HOTLINE at 643-PEST (7378).

Statewide Survey of Hawaii’s Avocado Industry

The Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United (HFUU) and Hawaiʻi Avocado Association (HAA) are conduction a survey as part of their Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant for Fiscal Year 2020.

The purpose of the survey is to estimate the current supply of avocados grown commercially in Hawaii, including the types of cultivars (varieties) and growing elevations on each island. This information will be used to develop strategies to bolster Hawaiʻiʻs avocado industry.

Results will be shared publicly, but individual farmers and farm names will be kept anonymous. 

Hawaii Delegation to USDA: Detect & Eradicate Murder Hornet, Other Invasive Hornets at U.S. Ports of Entry

Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), along with delegation colleagues Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Representative Ed Case (D-Hawaii), and Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), urged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to utilize USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) emergency funding if necessary to quickly detect and eradicate the Asian giant hornet, sometimes referred to as the murder hornet.

Asian giant hornet

These giant hornets’ arrival to the United States was first documented earlier this year in Washington State. If the hornets become established, they could quickly make their way to Hawaii and decimate honeybee populations, as the state receives shipments of goods from Washington State, Canada, and across Asia. Currently, ports in Asia do not have processes in place to detect or trap the hornet.

“To immediately stop further introduction and spread of these giant hornets to all U.S. ports, USDA APHIS should consider putting forward a portion of this emergency funding to not only enhance inspections and surveys at ports of entry, but also develop effective traps, place these traps at major ports of entry, and establish an approved treatment method to quickly deploy should these giant hornets be detected,” the Members wrote.

The Members continued, “The arrival of the giant hornet would be devastating to our local agricultural industry. Hawaii has a thriving queen bee breeding industry that brings in $10 million a year to Hawaii’s economy, and 80 percent of crops grown here are pollinated by bees. Hawaii also supplies the honeybee queens used in pollination services of 40 percent of the hives used in the continental United States.”

The letter can be found below:

Dear Secretary Perdue: 

Reports that the Asian giant hornet, Vespa mandarinia, have recently been found in Washington State have raised alarm about the potential devastating impact these predacious insects could have on our nation’s pollinators, and thus our nation’s food supply, should they become established. Given how quickly these hornets can decimate honeybee colonies, which are estimated to pollinate one-third of our food supply and have an estimated value of $20 billion to U.S. crop production, it is in the nation’s best interest to rapidly deploy resources at all levels of government to quickly find and eradicate these insects. 

We understand that to date USDA has been working closely with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to detect and eradicate these insects. This includes providing approximately $400,000 to support research, survey, and eradication efforts as well as providing technical support to Washington State. Additionally, we understand that USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has also been working with federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Armed Forces Pest Management Board, as they all own and manage land in the impacted area.

As the giant hornet has only been found in a limited area to date, the resources and response that USDA has provided are proportional to the severity of the situation. However, knowing the potential for spread and decimation of entire honeybee colonies, if these giant hornets are not quickly detected and eradicated in Washington State or if they are detected at other ports of entry, we urge USDA to consider tapping into additional resources provided by the Plant Protection Act’s Section 7721 (PPA 7721) program. This program, administered by USDA APHIS, provides funding necessary to detect and respond to invasive pest emergencies should a pest of high economic consequence be found in the United States. Of the $70 million that Congress provided for the program in FY2020, $15.5 million was set aside to support rapid response during invasive pest emergencies, such as the recent arrival of these giant hornets.

While the giant hornet’s specific mode of arrival to the U.S. is currently unknown, it is speculated that it arrived via ship, either in the ballast or within cargo. It has also been reported that the giant hornet has been found in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Our understanding is that ports in Asia do not currently have any procedures in place to detect or trap the hornet. To immediately stop further introduction and spread of these giant hornets to all U.S. ports, USDA APHIS should consider putting forward a portion of this emergency funding to not only enhance inspections and surveys at ports of entry, but also develop effective traps, place these traps at major ports of entry, and establish an approved treatment method to quickly deploy should these giant hornets be detected. As Hawaii receives shipments of goods from Washington State, Canada, and Asia, the arrival of the giant hornet would be devastating to our local agricultural industry. Hawaii has a thriving queen bee breeding industry that brings in $10 million a year to Hawaii’s economy, and 80 percent of crops grown here are pollinated by bees. Hawaii also supplies the honeybee queens used in pollination services of 40 percent of the hives used in the continental United States. 

This recent news also renews focus on threats from other invasive hornets, such as the greater banded hornet (Vespa tropica), that became established on Guam in 2016. This invasive hornet also preys on honeybees and should it become established in Hawaii or the mainland U.S., could have a negative impact on agriculture and thus be of high economic consequence.  

As such, we appreciate USDA’s response to the giant hornet’s arrival in Washington State to date and request that should the situation with this or other invasive hornets like the greater banded hornet warrant additional federal resources, that you allocate a portion of Section 7721 emergency funding to further detection and eradication efforts as well as enhance inspections for invasive hornets at U.S. ports of entry.  

Hawaii Coffee Assoc. Presents 2020 Webinar Series June 24 & 25

The Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Webinar Series is provided June 24th and 25th as a free resource for its association members and the broader community. Each session is designed to provide important updates on the effects of the pandemic on the Hawaii coffee industry and on the coffee industry at large. In addition, the series addresses other useful topics to inform coffee professionals of changing trends and regulations.

The speaker lineup of educational presentations and topics is as follows:

Wednesday, June 24

8 to 8:30 – Message from Hawaii Coffee Association President Chris Manfredi
9:30 to 11 – The Impact of Time, Temperature, and Extraction on the Sensory Quality of Drip Brew Coffee/Mackenzie Batali of UC Davis Coffee Center
11:30 to 1 – Coffee Scoring Systems Panel/Kim Westerman of Coffee Review, Shawn Steiman of Coffea Consulting, Brittany Horn and Madeleine Longoria Garcia of Pacific Coffee Research
2 to 2:30 – 2019-2020 College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Research and Extension Update/Andrea Kawabata and Shannon Sand
2:30 to 3 – Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council Update/Suzanne Shriner

Thursday, June 25

9:30 to 11 – Hawaii in Global Market/Joan Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian, Marcus Young of Boot Coffee
12 to 1 – Specialty Coffee Association US Chapter Update/ Madeleine Longoria Garcia, Marcus Boni and Nathanael May
2 to 2:30 – Hawaii Department of Agriculture Update/Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, Chairperson
2:30 to 3 – USDA Rural Development Programs/Brenda Iokepa-Moses

Webinar registration and more information including speaker bios is available below and on their website.

The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers. The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees.  A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. Learn more about the HCA through our website.

Following is a brief introduction of three of the webinar’s prominent speakers. To see bios of all speakers please follow this link https://hawaiicoffeeassoc.org/page-1771697.

Kim Westerman is a certified sommelier, a licensed Q-grader, and an olive oil taster-in-training.

Kim Westerman

She’s also beginning a systematic study of tea in her new role as managing editor of STiR magazine. She has worked with Coffee Review for five years, where she cups coffee daily and evaluates samples on the 100-point scale pioneered by this publication in 1997. She lives in Berkeley, California, and travels far and wide in search of peak sensory experiences.

Brenda Iokepa-Moses uses her leadership experience to oversee Rural Development programs in a customer-focused manner to restore prosperity in rural Hawaii, American Samoa and the Western Pacific.

Brenda Iokepa-Moses

Since 2013, Iokepa-Moses served as president of the Hawaii Association of Conservation Districts. She also served as chairperson on the Ka`u Soil and Water Conservation Board and was past president of Ka`u Farm Bureau.

Joan Obra is a Hawaii agriculturalist whose work stretches throughout the state.

Joan Obra

As a grant writer, she has helped multiple ag industries raise almost $800,000 to support exports, train coffee farmers in quality processing, and improve soil health on coffee farms. Obra aims to benefit farming families because she’s part of one: She is a co-owner of Rusty’s Hawaiian, the award-winning Ka’u coffee farm, mill and roastery. In 2019, Hawaii Business Magazine named Joan a “20 for the Next 20” leader, citing her rare ability to work at the big-picture level and tie it back to the reality of small farms.

Macadamia Market is Projected to Grow

The global macadamia market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% during the forecast period (2020-2025). The market is growing at a faster pace with the growing importance of healthy eating and consumers are more frequently choosing nuts as a healthy snack option and incorporating them into their daily diets.

In addition, organic macadamia is also gaining popularity with increasing demand coming majorly from the European countries. The wide application of processed macadamia in different industrial segments, such as the food and beverage industry, and cosmetics and personal care industry, is also augmenting the growth of these nuts in the global market. 

Australia, Hawaii in the United States, and South Africa are the largest macadamia production regions in the world. Few other growing regions include Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

Read the full report here.

Key Market Trends

Increase in Government Initiatives Supporting Macadamia Production And Trade

As a commodity witnessing rising demand, globally, along with the shortage of supply in the global market, leading to discrepancies in the demand-supply situation of the commodity, there is a dire need for investments in the industry and contributions from government organizations, which, in turn, may act as a growth catalyst for the development of the market.

For instance, the Australian Macadamia Society, a government horticulture organization, with the macadamia levy fund, has successfully developed ‘Mactrix’ to control macadamia nut-borer that allowed the macadamia industry to have one of the highest rates of adoption of Integrated Pest Management. They have also published their research works, grower meetings, and conferences in order to spread the message to increase the adoption of the latest and best-practice methods for the cultivation of macadamia.

Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association has also researched on topics, such as nutrient management and leaf sampling, integrated pest management, orchard floor, and canopy management, micronutrient management, and many more. One such project was on fertilizing macadamia, which included all the critical factors affecting fertilizing, important soils in macadamia nuts, determining Nutrient Status, soil analysis, tissue concentration for bearing macadamia nut, and other factors.

Also, the Southern African Macadamia Growers’ Association, a South African association, in 2019, worked on projects, such as Phytophthora control, pruning, thrip/mite control, stink bug scouting techniques/chemicals, pollination/beehive requirements, cultivar research, nut borer management and control, cultivar breeding, reducing November nut drop, sting bug control average rating, etc.

Australia to be the Fastest Growing Market for Macadamias

The production of macadamia in Australia was at 14,800 metric tons in 2018. The Australian macadamia crop has grown steadily since 2015, driven largely by sustained investment in productivity improvements. therefore, doubling the export tree nuts since 2013. The expansion has been recorded in 2018 across all growing regions, including relatively newer areas such as Emerald north of Bundaberg and Yamba south of Ballina which has fueled the growth of production of macadamia nuts in the country.

According to the Australian Macadamia Society, currently the industry has about 6 million trees covering an area of 16,000 hectares varying in tree ages, with approximately 850 macadamia growers which supports the production of macadamia nuts in Australia.

According to Australian Macadamia Society, the country has approximately 70% of the world macadamia production is and it has also been involved in the trade of the crop by exporting to more than 40 countries, worldwide. The changing consumer preferences towards nutritious diets coupled with the growing importance of macadamia nut in the international markets is likely to drive the market for macadamias in the domestic market.

Delegation Urges USDA to Provide Relief Funding to Aid Hawaii’s Specialty Crop Farmers

U.S. Senators Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono and U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Ed Case called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to expand its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to include Hawai‘i’s unique specialty crops and help Hawai‘i farmers.

“The severe economic impacts from the pandemic have left Hawai‘i’s farmers in dire need of financial assistance to remain in production, and we request your leadership and assistance in providing them much needed immediate relief,” the delegation wrote in their letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue.

The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which was funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, provides financial assistance to farmers who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some specialty crops are immediately eligible under the program, the vast majority of specialty crops in Hawai‘i, including macadamia nuts, coffee, bananas, and pineapples, are not, and will instead have to undergo an administrative process to determine their eligibility. Specialty crops make up 70% of Hawai‘i’s top agricultural commodities.

The full text of the letter is below:

——————————————————————

Dear Secretary Perdue:

We are extremely concerned with the list of specialty crops announced on May 19, 2020 as eligible for assistance under the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). With specialty crops making up 70% of Hawai‘i’s top agricultural commodities, those producers are amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic. Yet, USDA’s list fails to include the majority of our state’s specialty crops. Hawai‘i’s farmers need immediate relief, and we request that you expand eligibility to include specialty crops that make up our top twenty agricultural commodities. We urge you to also work with Farm Service Agency personnel in Hawai‘i to recognize all specialty crops produced in our state as soon as possible.

The majority of Hawai‘i’s farms are diversified with specialty crops. Our state leads the U.S. in acres producing macadamia nut, papaya, passion fruit, taro, bananas, coffee, pineapple, and ginger root—and yet, from that list only papaya and taro are on the USDA’s current list for relief. The most recent statistics for Hawai‘i’s top agricultural commodities from the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) underscore this concern:

CommodityValue of Production 
(millions)
     Specialty
Crop Status
Seed Crops$120.8 
Macadamia Nuts$53.9YES
Cattle$43.891 
Coffee$43.774YES
Other Aquaculture$41.177 
Algae$35.19 
Landscape Plant Material$22.354YES
Papayas$9.4YES
Milk$9.214 
Lettuce$8.705YES
Bananas$6.028YES
Palms, potted$4.607YES
Plant Rentals$3.44 
Dendrobiums, potted$3.24YES
Sweet Potatoes$3.12YES
Anthurium$2.892YES
Honey$2.374YES
Dry Onions$2.080YES
Cabbage, Chinese$1.725YES
Ginger Root$1.7YES

While a handful of specialty crops from this list are currently on the USDA’s list of specialty crops immediately eligible for relief under CFAP, the specialty crops that are currently omitted leave a large number of Hawai‘i’s farmers either waiting and hoping to be included in the list of eligible specialty crops, or in the same category as wheat, soy, corn, and other row crops.

Furthermore, crops currently left off the list, like bananas and ginger, are locally consumed and contribute to our food security. Failing to provide these producers with relief may force them to pivot to export crops and decrease our local food production. We appreciate that USDA is working to gather information from industries to assess the possibility of including additional specialty crops as eligible at a later date. However, impacts to farmers in Hawai‘i began months ago and timing of assistance is critical to keep our farmers in production.

Hawai‘i’s economy has been exceptionally hard hit during the pandemic because of the state’s dependence on the hospitality industry and visitor spending. The University of Hawai‘i Economic Research Organization (UHERO) projected real visitor spending to decline by 17% in the second quarter, but the actual impacts could easily exceed the forecast. For example, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that visitor arrivals and associated visitor spending were down nearly 54% and 52%, respectively, from March last year.

The pandemic has had severe impacts on the state’s agricultural producers, but it is difficult to provide definitive statistics at this time. On April 27, UHERO published data from a survey of 623 businesses statewide, and reported the following figures for agriculture, forestry, fishing, and hunting: a 21% loss in agricultural jobs from January to April of this year, causing a 17% loss in revenue. According to the Hawai‘i Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, to date over 238,000 unemployment claims, representing roughly 34% of the total workforce, have been filed since March 1.

The severe economic impacts from the pandemic have left Hawai‘i’s farmers in dire need of financial assistance to remain in production, and we request your leadership and assistance in providing them much needed immediate relief.

Sincerely,

Brian Schatz
United States Senator

Mazie K. Hirono
United States Senator

Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress

Ed Case 
Member of Congress

Specialty Crops Producers Can Now Apply for Financial Assistance

Specialty crops producers can now apply for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which provides direct payments to offset impacts from the coronavirus pandemic. The application and a payment calculator are now available online and USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff members are available via phone, fax and online tools to help producers complete applications. The agency set up a call center in order to simplify how they serve new customers across the nation. Applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020.

Through CFAP, USDA is making available $16 billion for vital financial assistance to producers of agricultural commodities who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline due to COVID-19 and face additional significant marketing costs as a result of lower demand, surplus production, and disruptions to shipping patterns and the orderly marketing of commodities.

We also want to remind producers that the program is structured to ensure the availability of funding for all eligible producers who apply. In order to do this, producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment, not to exceed the payment limit, will be paid at a later date nationwide, as funds remain available.

Producers can download the CFAP application and other eligibility forms from farmers.gov/cfap. Also, on that webpage, producers can find a payment calculator to help identify sales and inventory records needed to apply and calculate potential payments.

Additionally, producers in search of one-on-one support with the CFAP application process can call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to offer assistance. This is a good first step before a producer engages the team at the FSA county office at their local USDA Service Center. 

Applying for Assistance

Producers of all eligible commodities will apply through their local FSA office. Those who use the online calculator tool will be able to print off a pre-filled CFAP application to sign and submit to your local FSA office either electronically or via hand delivery. Please contact your local office to determine the preferred method. Producers can find contact information for their FSA county office by visiting farmers.gov/CFAP and using the Find Your Local Service Center tool at the bottom of the page.

Documentation to support the producer’s application and certification may be requested after the application is filed. FSA has streamlined the signup process to not require an acreage report at the time of application and a USDA farm number may not be immediately needed.

 Additional Commodities

USDA is also establishing a process for the public to identify additional commodities for potential inclusion in CFAP. Specifically, USDA is looking for data on agricultural commodities, that are not currently eligible for CFAP, that the public believes to have either:

  1. Suffered a five percent-or-greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,
  2. Shipped but subsequently spoiled due to loss of marketing channel, or
  3. Not left the farm or remained unharvested as mature crops.

More information about this process is available on farmers.gov/cfap.

More Information

To find the latest information on CFAP, visit farmers.gov/cfap or call 877-508-8364.

USDA Service Centers are open for business by phone appointment only, and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While program delivery staff will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone and using online tools whenever possible. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service, or any other Service Center agency are required to call their Service Center to schedule a phone appointment. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus

Agricultural Water Efficiency Grants Available

The Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) has just opened an Agricultural Water Efficiency Grants program under Hawaiiʻs Fresh Water Initiative. HCF is looking to support projects to concretely improve agricultural water use efficiency and provide measurable benefits to the State.

Non-profits and private ag parks are eligible for grants up to $100,000. 

The Request for Proposals (RPF) indicates that preference will be given to projects that primarily benefit underserved communities such as women, Native Hawaiians, immigrant farmers or others and projects that benefit multiple farmers.

The deadline to apply is June 30, 2020. 

To view the RFP, go here.

BACKGROUND

Fresh water is the foundation of economic and environmental sustainability for Hawaiʻi but our supply is increasingly threatened by precipitating factors of climate change and a growing population. In recognition of the critical importance of long-term fresh water security for the Hawaiian Islands, the comprehensive “Fresh Water Initiative” is designed to pro-actively address and resolve water supply issues. The Initiative’s ultimate goal is to create 100 million gallons per day (MGD) in additional, reliable fresh water capacity for our islands by 2030 despite declining rainfall and other climate challenges. The Initiative was designed by a diverse, knowledgeable blue-ribbon council via a two-year collaborative process resulting in a Fresh Water Blueprint for Action (Blueprint). The Blueprint set out ambitious goals to increase water reuse, recharge, and conservation across the state, and recommended over 30 discrete policy and practice changes to be implemented by 2030. One goal looks at how to increase efficiency in the water & agricultural nexus resulting in co-benefits for both water and food security.

As one of the largest user groups of municipal fresh water supply, the agricultural sector has the potential to contribute a significant portion of water conservation gains through improved efficiency. The Hawaiʻi Community Foundation (HCF) is looking to support the work of the Initiativeʻs Blueprint by funding projects to concretely improve agricultural water use efficiency and provide measurable benefits to the state of Hawaii. This is a one-time discrete funding opportunity and we do not anticipate continued future funding.

Hilo Farm Awarded Grant from The FruitGuys

During COVID-19, small, independent farms have shown once again how essential they are to local communities. To support these farmers, The FruitGuys Community Fund, a nonprofit led by fruit delivery pioneers The FruitGuys, today announced the 15 small farms chosen as its 2020 grantees. Grants totaling more than $51,000 were awarded to farms and agricultural nonprofits from 14 different states for environmental sustainability projects. The Community Fund changed its funding dispersal timing in response to the pandemic crisis and gave the full monetary award in one installment, instead of two, to the grantee farmers.

“Small American farms are key to a healthy food system, economic self-sufficiency, sustainability, and food access and they need support more than ever to continue to feed our communities and keep us healthy,” said Chris Mittelstaedt, project director for The FruitGuys Community Fund and founder and CEO of The FruitGuys. “We are humbled to continue to provide this critical funding and grateful that none of the selected farms foresaw any additional challenges to completing their sustainability projects this year due to the effects of COVID-19.” 

Of the 2020 grantees, 80% are women and/or persons of color-owned or managed. Fourteen out of the 15 grantee farms are actively increasing food access for low-income communities. 

Hundreds of farms across the nation vied for this year’s honors. The 2020 grantee farms, ranging in size from one acre to 120 acres, will use the funding for projects that help conserve water, increase soil health, strengthen natural pest control, extend growing seasons, reduce carbon footprints, bring healthy produce to food deserts, and teach community members how to farm. 

The following 15 farms have been selected for the 2020 grant cycle: 

  • Sugar Hill Farmstead — Hilo, Hawaii
  • Bittersweet Farm — Heuvelton, New York
  • Blue Yonder Organic Farm — North Salem, Indiana
  • Coffee Pot Farms — Winslow, Arizona
  • Comeback Orchards — Asbury, New Jersey
  • Dry Creek Farm — Tahlequah, Oklahoma
  • Frecon Fruit Farms — Boyertown, Pennsylvania
  • Hollyaire Farm — Junction City, Oregon
  • Kansas City Community Gardens (The Giving Grove) — Kansas City, Missouri
  • Mick Klug Farm – St. Joseph, Michigan
  • Rancho Charanda — Redlands, California
  • Seafield Farm – Cape Charles, Virginia
  • Shao Shan Farm – Bolinas, California
  • Sicangu Community Development (Keya Wakpala Gardens) — Mission, South Dakota
  • Thompson Creek Farm — Newman Lake, Washington

To view the full list of grant recipients and read about each of their funded projects, visit The FruitGuys Community Fund. 

Founded in 2012, the fund provides micro grants (up to $5,000) to small farms and agricultural nonprofits for sustainability projects that have a large positive impact on the environment, local food systems, and farm diversity. To date, $326,000 has been awarded to 84 farms in 30 US states.

The grants were also made possible this year with the support of donors to The FruitGuys Community Fund’s Give & Grow 2020 campaign. To make a donation in support of the 2021 grantees, please see the Give & Grow Good 2021 campaign.

More COVID-19 Emergency Farmer Relief Grants Issued

The Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) will be issuing a second round of grants totaling an additional $200,000 under the COVID-19 Emergency Farmer Relief Program to assist farmers, ranchers and growers who have experienced financial damage. In this second round, 96 grants were issued ranging between $2,000 and $4,000 each and will provide stop-gap financial relief to help agribusinesses during the COVID-19 crisis. The funds may be used to help utilize an oversupply of agricultural products resulting from decreased demand due to closures of restaurants, schools and other businesses.

Last month, HDOA issued 106 grants totaling $270,000, of which $250,000 came from the State’s barrel tax fund (Agriculture Development and Food Security Special Fund) and made available through Gov. Ige’s March 4 emergency proclamation and $20,000 from the Ulupono Foundation to assist hog farmers with feed costs. Subsequently, HDOA was able to identify additional barrel tax funds slated for other projects and apply them to the emergency fund. The relief program has now awarded a total of about $470,000 through 202 grants.

“The heartfelt responses we received from grant recipients in the first round made us search even harder for additional funds so we can assist more agricultural producers,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “Although these are not large grants, we know that they are helping many small farms stay in business.”

HDOA received and reviewed a total of 333 grant applications in late March. Priority was given to applications that demonstrated significant financial damage caused or exacerbated specifically by the COVID-19 situation that poses a serious threat of permanently shutting down the applicant’s agricultural operations. The second round of grants was issued to the next qualified applicants on the priority list.

Both rounds of funding mainly focused on individual farmer grants of $2,000 with a few awards granted to non-profit commodity and agricultural industry associations ranging between $2,000 and $10,000.

The grants were awarded statewide:

The emergency relief program has been a priority for HDOA as well as the Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS), which has fast-tracked the processing and printing of the grant checks.

HDOA is also providing financial assistance through an Emergency Agricultural Loan Program, which was approved by the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture on April 14, 2020. So far, the program has received more than 125 inquiries and about 30 applications for emergency loans.

The emergency loan program offers low-interest loans to qualified farmers. Eligible farmers may apply for emergency loans of up to $150,000 at 3 percent interest. Loans of $100,000 or less will not require credit denials from other financial institutions, which would normally be required for agricultural loans. The board also waived the three-year residency requirements normally required for agricultural loans. Micro loans of less than $25,000 are also available and involve less paperwork and offer swifter processing.

Farmers interested in applying for emergency or micro loans should contact their nearest HDOA office:

Oahu, Kauai, Maui – (808) 973-9460
Hilo – (808) 933-9977
Kona – (808) 323-7591

In addition, several farmers with existing agricultural loans are working with HDOA’s loan officers to work out payment relief plans.

For more information on agricultural loans, go to the division’s webpage.

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Webinar

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Services will host a webinar for producers interested in applying for direct payments through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).

Date and Time: Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 7 a.m. HST

As part of the $19 billion Coronavirus Farm Assistance Program, USDA will provide $16 billion in direct support based on losses for agricultural producers where prices and market supply chains have been impacted. Also, USDA will assist eligible producers facing additional adjustment and marketing costs resulting from lost demand and short-term oversupply for the 2020 marketing year by COVID-19.

USDA is hosting this webinar to share what information is needed to apply for direct payments through CFAP, once the application period begins. The webinar is an opportunity for producers to learn about the general application process and required documentation prior to the official beginning of signup. Producers who are new to Participating in Farm Service Agency programs are especially encouraged to join the webinar.

Register in Advance

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. USDA encourages participants to submit questions through the Q&A box or by emailing CFAP.webinars@usda.gov.  While questions will not be answered live during the webinar, they will be posted at farmers.gov/CFAP along with a recording of the webinar and other CFAP information.

Amended Rules Prohibiting Importation of Plants in Myrtle Family

Gov. David Ige has approved an amendment to the Hawai`i Administrative Rules that restricts the importation of plants, plant parts and seeds in the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family, including some that are commonly used in floral arrangements. The rule amendment becomes effective on May 15, 2020 and was established to prevent the introduction of new strains of a fungus and other pests and diseases that threaten ʻōhiʻa trees, native forests and watersheds, and also horticultural and agricultural industries.

ʻōhiʻa rust

The primary threat is a fungus, Puccinia (Austropuccinia) psidii, commonly known as ʻōhiʻa rust or guava rust that infects plants in the Myrtaceae family, including a wide range of plants such as guava, eucalyptus, and ʻōhiʻa. The new rule amendment also prohibits the import of Myrtaceae plant parts that are commonly used in the floral, nursery, landscaping and food industries include wax flower, myrtle, bottle brush, allspice, and clove. Processed allspice and cloves are not affected by this rule. Further, the rule only applies to the importation of Myrtaceae and does not affect the status of plants already in the state.

“The department realizes that this new rule has a considerable impact on some in the floral industry, and we have tried to give the industry as much lead time as possible to find alternatives to importing these particular plants,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “We hope the industry will see an opportunity to grow and source flowers and foliage from within the state to help decrease the risk of importing other plant pests and pathogens.”

The new rule amendment authorizes the Hawai`i Department of Agriculture’s Plant Quarantine Branch (PQB) to prohibit the introduction of any Myrtaceae plant, plant part, or seed into Hawai`i except:

  1. Dried, non-living plant materials;
  2. Seeds, with no other plant fragments, that have been surface sterilized using a treatment approved by the PQB chief;
  3. Tissue cultured plants grown in sterile media and in a completely enclosed sterile glass flask or other similar container; or
  4. By approved permit.

If Myrtaceae plants, plant parts, or seeds are shipped to Hawai`i and do not fall within the four exceptions previously listed, the entire shipment may be delayed, quarantined, destroyed, or returned to place of origin at the expense of the owner or importer.

The full list of plants in the Myrtaceae family may be viewed at http://www.theplantlist.org/1.1/browse/A/Myrtaceae/

Prior to the governor’s approval, public hearings were held statewide and the rule amendment was approved by the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. Notices were sent to shippers and importers in October 2019 to advise them of the pending new rule amendment.

Hawaii Farmers & Distributors Receive $5.2 Million to Facilitate Food Delivery

Senator Mazie K. Hirono announced today that farmers and distributors in Hawaii will receive $5.2 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide food to families in need. The funding, distributed under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, is part of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) that Congress established in the second coronavirus relief legislation that passed the Senate in March. 

“Like so many places across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic is driving unprecedented demand for food assistance in Hawaii. The harrowing images we’ve seen of families lining up for hours to receive food demonstrate the urgency to direct more federal resources to assist those in need,” Sen. Hirono said. “This funding, provided through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, will facilitate the delivery of assistance to food banks and other social service organizations across our state. It will also support the ongoing efforts of our farmers and distributors who have worked hard to adapt to feed individuals and families in our community. I will continue to advocate for this program and other crucial initiatives to assist Hawaii families in need.”

The Hawaii-based companies receiving funding under this program include: 

Aina Hookupu O Kilauea: $468,000

Ham Produce and Seafood Inc.: $3,584,000

Hawaii Foodservice Alliance: $313,500

Malama Kauai: $235,200

Suisan Company Limited: $621,813

The Farmers to Families Food Box Program, a component of the USDA CFAP, is aimed at supporting farmers and ranchers through the purchase of excess commodities while replenishing supplies for over-extended food banks and organizations throughout the country. Through the program, national, regional, and local suppliers partner with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to purchase up to $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat products. 

Suppliers in the program will package these products into family-sized boxes and transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits that distribute food to Americans in need, with deliveries beginning on May 15, and running through June 30, 2020. Additional information on the Farmers to Families Food Box Program, including webinars and answers to FAQs, is available on the AMS website.

Hawaiʻi Island Farm Product Purchase Program

In collaboration with the Department of Research and Development, The Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau has implemented a program to purchase local farm products to supply the Food Basket and other food distribution centers on Hawaiʻi Island.

Local producers have seen their markets dwindle and sales reduced. This project will help help local producers stay in business  and keep their workers employed while supplying food insecure residents with fresh local farm products free of charge.

Farmers and ranchers can go to the Hawaiʻi Farm Bureau’s Hawaiʻi island Farm Product Purchase Program website for more information and to participate.

SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program Announced for Agricultural Businesses

In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories were able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid. 

Small Business Administration (SBA) has resumed processing EIDL applications that were submitted before the portal stopped accepting new applications on April 15 and will be processing these applications on a first-come, first-served basis. SBA will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses.

The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).
  • SBA is encouraging all eligible agricultural businesses with 500 or fewer employees wishing to apply to begin preparing their business financial information needed for their application.

 At this time, only agricultural business applications will be accepted due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. Applicants who have already submitted their applications will continue to be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. For agricultural businesses that submitted an EIDL application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will process these applications without the need for re-applying.

Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the Loan Advance here.

To apply for a disaster loan unrelated to COVID-19, click here.

Agriculture Theft & Crime Cost Hawaii Farm Producers $14.4 Million in 2019

The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service in Cooperation with the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture has released a report on the results of the  Hawaiʻi Agricultural Theft and Vandalism survey for 2019.

The total value of theft and vandalism losses, as well as security costs, from Hawaiʻi farms is estimated at $14.4 million or 10% of the total of the 2018 net farm income of $142 million estimated by USDA, Economic Research Service. For 2019, Hawaiʻi County had the second highest rate of theft and vandalism in the state, at 15% of state total. Hawaiʻi County reported the highest cost attributed to security measures at $7.78 million.

Just 6% of respondents statewide were familiar with and completed the Department of Agriculture’s ownership and movement certificates which were designed to deter agricultural theft. 

Plant Pest Control Branch Suspends Insect Drop Off Due to COVID-19

To reduce public exposure to COVID-19, effective immediately, the HDOA is temporarily suspending the receipt of incoming physical samples of insects for identification that are dropped off at the King Street office without appointments.

Avocado Lace Bug

Interested persons who would like to have insect and plant samples identified should first send an email detailing the pest issue you are concerned with and supplement your description with digital images of the pest and damage it is causing. If the problem cannot be handled through digital images or phone calls, we will advise the submitter on the next steps, which may include dropping off samples.

Send Emails for Pest identification to: HDOA.PPC@hawaii.gov.

Include clear, in focus photos of the pest and the damage it is causing.

Try to get some photos as close as possible, while still maintaining sharpness.

In the photo, put a common object next to the pest or damage to show size scale (e.g., ruler, coin, or pencil).

Please include the following information:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Location
  • Pest issue
  • Date pest was observed
  • Describe damage pest is causing
  • Describe the pest:
    • Size
    • Color
    • What plant is it infesting/feeding on?
  • How long has this been a problem?

Questions: Please call 973-9530

A copy of this notice is available to download at: https://hdoa.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Samples-for-ID-for-front-office4-17-20.doc

CTAHR: COVID-19 Agriculture Needs Assessment Survey

The past few weeks have brought significant changes in the agriculture industry in Hawaiʻi. With that in mind, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) extension agents have created a short COVID-19 Agriculture Needs Assessment survey focused on finding out the immediate needs of the agricultural industry.

This information will be used to inform extension agents throughout the state about the current needs of producers. We understand a lot is going on, however, this survey should take only five to ten minutes to complete, and your answers will remain confidential. Thank you for taking the time to fill out this survey, we greatly appreciate it. If you have any questions feel free to contact any of the members of the team.

For more information, contact Shannon Sand, Agricultural Finance Extension Agent, Komohana Research and Extension Center, 969-8217

Emergency Ag Loan Program Approved to Assist Those Impacted by COVID-19

The Hawai`i Board of Agriculture today approved an emergency loan program for farmers, growers and ranchers across the state who are suffering economically due to the COVID-19 situation. The loan program is effective immediately.

Eligible farmers may now apply for emergency loans of up to $150,000 at 3 percent interest. Loans of $100,000 or less will not require credit denials from other financial institutions, which would normally be required for agricultural loans. The board also waived the three-year residency requirements normally required for agricultural loans.

“As with many sectors of our community, our agricultural industry is suffering serious financial hardship due to the closure of restaurants, hotels and other businesses, said Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser, chairperson of the Hawai`i Board of Agriculture. “The emergency loan program will help agribusinesses survive through this crisis so they will be able to resume their operations on the other side of this pandemic.”

The board also authorized state loan officers to modify or waive collateral requirements, as deemed necessary, on a case-by-case basis. Loan applications for emergency loans relating to COVID-19 will be accepted until Dec. 31, 2020.

Farmers interested in applying for an emergency loan should contact their nearest HDOA office:

Oahu, Kauai, Maui – (808) 973-9460
Hilo – (808) 933-9975
Kona – (808) 323-7591

Besides emergency loans, HDOA also offers micro-loans for those needing loans of $25,000 or less.  Micro-loans involve less paperwork and swifter processing.

In addition, current agricultural loan holders who are suffering financially due to COVID-19 may also request payment relief or forbearance.

For more information on agricultural loans, call the Agricultural Loan Division at (808) 973-9460 or go the division’s webpage:  http://hdoa.hawaii.gov/agl/

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Visits Local Farm, Addresses Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United Convention

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today addressed the 7th Annual Hawaiʻi Farmers Union United (HFUU) Convention held at Kahumana Farms in Waiʻanae.

The congresswoman recognized the Hawaiʻi chapter’s achieving charter status with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and spoke about opportunities for Hawaiʻi in the upcoming 2018 farm bill, and her work to fight for funding for important grant programs that empower Hawaiʻi’s communities to live more sustainably, strengthen local and regional food systems, and empower those growing food to feed Hawaiʻi’s people, leveling the field, rather than more giveaways to big, agribusiness corporations.

The three day convention brings together members of the NFU, including NFU President Roger Johnson, NFU leadership from across the country, local farmers, small businessowners, and others to explore the concepts of Aloha ‘Aina and Malama ‘Aina to create regenerative agricultural systems for Hawaiʻi. This year’s conference includes panels and presentations on polyculture cover crops, agro ecology systems, soil and human health, hemp in Hawaiʻi, sustainable and organic farming, and much more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “As a community, we have great potential for Hawaiʻi to empower our local farmers, strengthen our food security, secure funding for critical research, and empower our local communities through locally grown agriculture. Over the last several years, we’ve seen a rise in local farm-to-school programs, improved value of our coffee industries, and increased engagement among our local community to buy local and invest in community farming. There is much to be done to build on these successes, and events like today’s bring together all the necessary community components to make it happen.”