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    June 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « May    

Additional Funds Secured to Fight Coffee Berry Borer Bug

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

Following an announcement from Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono that she and Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard were successful in securing $700,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to combat the coffee berry borer in Hawaii, State Representative Nicole Lowen (Kailua-Kona, Holualoa, Kalaoa, Honokohau) issued the following statement:

“For the last several years, Hawaii Island coffee farms have been battling the coffee berry borer,” Lowen said. “Together with the $500,000 secured by the state Legislature this session to establish a Pesticide Subsidy Program, these monies will go a long way to turning the tide and protecting Hawaii’s coffee industry, which brings in $30 million annually. I am very grateful to both Senator Hirono and Representative Gabbard for their continued strong efforts in looking after Hawaii’s interests in Washington D.C.”

To date the coffee berry borer has destroyed more than $9 million of locally grown coffee since 2010, impacting many small local businesses and farms, especially on Hawaii Island. As a member of the House Finance Committee, Lowen successful secured $800,000 in 2013 and, as noted above, $500,000 this session to combat the coffee berry borer.

Senator Hirono and USDA Announce First Major Federal Initiative to Fight Coffee Berry Borer

After Hirono Urged USDA To Take Action Against The Highly Destructive Beetle Earlier This Year, Department Agrees To Spend $1 Million Immediately To Set-Up Hawaii Operation To Fight Invasive Species

Senator Mazie K. Hirono and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled the first major federal initiative today to fight the coffee berry borer that has been ravaging Hawaii Island coffee farms for almost three years. The project, a new arm of the USDA’s integrated pest management program, will be a scientifically-based approach to fighting the invasive species. In the immediate term, USDA will spend an initial $1 million dollars to set-up the Hawaii operation.

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

Coffee Berry Borer (Hypothenemus hampei)

“This new initiative to fight the coffee berry borer is great news for Hawaii and our economy, and I am very pleased that the USDA has recognized the threat of this highly destructive invasive species,” said Hirono. “Our state produces some of the world’s best coffee, and coffee is an important export from our state. But the livelihood of Hawaii Island coffee growers is increasingly being threatened by the coffee berry borer, as many farmers are forced to abandon large portions of their yields due to infestation each year. That’s why I originally urged the USDA to set up this initiative and have been working closely with the department to begin its implementation. USDA, the Hawaii Department of Agriculture and the University of Hawaii will collectively work to help coffee farmers combat and contain this invasive species.”

The announcement of the new project comes after Hirono urged the department to set up a Hawaii operation to fight the coffee berry borer. After working closely with Hirono and Hawaii coffee farmers to assess the need for the program, USDA agreed to immediately implement a new initiative to fight the devastating invasive species.

“USDA shares your concerns about the agricultural and economic impacts of this noxious pest,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote to Hirono in a letter earlier this month. “As such, I am pleased to announce the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service has funded an Area Wide Integrated Pest Management program to aid in controlling the coffee berry borer in the United States.”

Electronic scan of the coffee berry borer

Electronic scan of the coffee berry borer

Members of the Hawaii delegation have been working to get more funding for a possible program in the Farm Bill currently being considered in Congress. Ahead of USDA’s agreement to fund a program, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a successful amendment which was included in the Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that authorized funding for a USDA program. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa cosponsored the measure. Hirono introduced a similar measure in the Senate that was cosponsored by Senator Brian Schatz.

“The coffee berry borer has been a destructive force striking at the heart of Hawai‘i’s multi-million dollar coffee industry,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “In just two years, our treasured Kona coffee industry suffered more than $9 million in market losses, representing a roughly 25 percent revenue decrease. The economic impact has been deeply felt by coffee farms, most of which are small family farms, and coffee processors are being forced to lay off workers or reduce hours. The USDA initiative being established in Hawai‘i will help local coffee growers combat the effects of this invasive and destructive pest.”

The new program will be tasked with distributing effective treatments to local farmers and educating them on the most effective treatment practices, researching the genetic makeup of the coffee berry borer to find its weakness and disposing of infected plants. In his letter, Vilsack explained that the new USDA initiative will coordinate with local coffee farmers, the University of Hawaii and the Hawaii Department of Agriculture to use the following techniques to fight the borer:

  • Distribute the most effective repellents to farmers and training them on how to best use these treatments
  • Research new types of pest controls that could be more effective in killing the beetles
  • Create a plant sanitation program that decreases the opportunities for borer to reproduce and spread
  • Study the borer to find how the species is similar or different that other agricultural pest in order to develop better methods for controlling the pest

Hawaii Island is home to more than 700 small coffee farms. In 2011, coffee farmers in Hawaii produced more than 8 million pounds of coffee, valued at more than $30 million.

The borer is an insect native to Central Africa that lives, feeds and reproduces in both immature and mature coffee berries. This damage can have a significant negative impact on the quality and quantity of coffee crop yields. As a direct result of the coffee berry borer, many farmers in 2012 have expressed concerns that their yields were in jeopardy. Recent reports have found infestation rates of up to 80% for some Hawaii farms.

Vilsack’s letter to Hirono agreeing to start the program, as well as her initial call for the USDA to create the initiative, read below:

USDA to Mazie

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18th Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Conference and 5th Cupping Competition

The 18th Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) Conference and 5th Cupping Competition is July 18-20 at the Kauai Beach Resort. Offering a full lineup of informative activities, the annual event attracts statewide coffee industry growers, processors, roasters, wholesalers and retailers.

2010 Cupping Winner

2010 Cupping Winner

The gathering is also open to the public and the 2013-2014 season marks the 200th anniversary of coffee cultivation in Hawaii.

The conference includes workshops covering green grading, label compliance, quality control of roasting and packaging, cupping and eradication of the coffee berry borer beetle. Also on tap are legislative updates and reports from UH’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR), the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (PBARC) and the Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council (SHAC).

Other activities include an expo, silent auction, election of HCA officers, tour of Kauai Coffee Company and networking reception at the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Winners of the cupping competition are announced Saturday at a dinner headlined by TV business reporter Howard Dicus.

The prestigious, annual cupping competition is an evaluation of coffee based on flavor, aroma, “mouth-feel,” acidity, sweetness and aftertaste. Last year, a panel of three lead judges, using standardized blind procedures, cupped a field of 117 Hawaiian coffees hailing from eight districts. Top honors were given to Heavenly Hawaiian Farms in Kona and the Big Isle’s Wood Valley Coffee Co. in K’au.

For more information and to register, visit www.hawaiicoffeeassoc.org/Events.

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. The annual conference has continued to grow each year and has gained increased international attention. For information, visit www.hawaiicoffeeassociation.com.



Bills Important to the Big Island Continue Moving in the Legislature

As the 2013 legislative session hits the half way mark, proposed bills affecting the economy and quality of life for Big Island residents have been approved by the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate for further consideration.  Representative Richard H.K. Onishi (Hilo, Keaau, Kurtistown, Volcano, Pahala) has been working to keep several of those measures moving forward.


“Agriculture is an important component of life for residents who live in my district and for all of us on Hawaii Island.  I am pleased that the House has approved legislation that supports, improves and strengthens this vital part of our economy and life style. If we truly want to achieve food sustainability for Hawaii and put more local food in our markets and homes we need to assist farmers in every way we can, “said Representative Onishi.

The House also approved funding for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) to improve facilities at Keeau Middle School, and appropriated money to renovate the Keaukaha Military Reservation to house the Youth Challenge Academy.

Onishi said, “The funding for Keeau Middle School allows us to renovate the music building, and provide for the health and safety of our students by demolishing classrooms that are deemed not safe.  As for the Youth Challenge Academy, it needs to be relocated to the Keaukaha Military Reservation so that its current site, Kulani Correctional Facility, can be returned to its original and proper mission as an incarceration facility.”

Legislative Highlights for Hawaii Island:

  • HB353 – Appropriates funds to the Department of Agriculture for the United States Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of coffee berry borer infestations. Provides a grant for the coffee berry borer task force for control of the coffee berry borer and mitigation of damage.
  • HB487 – Expands livestock feed subsidy to include feed for goats, sheep, lambs, fish and crustaceans. Creates a subsidy for qualified feed developers.
  • HB489 – Provides, under certain circumstances, an exemption from building code and permit requirements for nonresidential buildings or structures on farms.
  • HB1264 – Allows for agricultural loans to be administered for livestock biosecurity projects. Modifies the new farmer loan program of the Department of Agriculture to promote the development of innovative technologies and to assist new farm enterprises.
  • HB1419 – Appropriates funds for personnel, operations and equipment to the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES).
  • HB417 – Addresses primary care physician shortages by appropriating funds for the interdisciplinary Hawaii Health Systems Corporation primary care training program at Hilo Medical Center.

House CIP Highlights for Hawaii Island:

  • $20,000 to renovate music building at Keeau Middle School
  • $675,000 to construct covered walkways and demolish unsafe classrooms at Keeau Middle School
  • $2.5 million for improvements to Ka‘u irrigation system
  • $5.9 million to renovate Keeaukaha Military Reservation to house the Youth Challenge Academy


Workshop: Integrated Pest Management of the Coffee Berry Borer

A workshop for coffee growers will feature an international expert who has more than a decade of experience dealing with the coffee berry borer in Columbia.

The 2-day workshop will be held on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 24 & 25 at the Kona Hongwanji in Kealakekua, The fee is $25 and you can register online or pay at the door. For more information on the workshop and registration information, link below.

Integrated Pest Management of the Coffee Berry Borer Workshop

Ka‘ū Coffee Festival Announces 3 New Events to 4th Annual Celebration

The Ka‘ū Coffee Festival kicks off 5-9 p.m. Saturday May 5th with Ka‘ū Farmers’ Table: A Feast for the Senses hosted by Kalaekilohana Bed and Breakfast. The event features an intimate evening of music with world-renowned Hawaiian entertainer Robert Cazimero and the culinary magic of Executive Chef Morgan Starr of Mi’s Italian Bistro. The locally sourced fare includes a paired five-course gourmet meal and a Ka‘ū coffee dessert bar. Tickets are $100 in advance. The event is being sponsored by Mi’s Wine and Cheese Shop, Hana Hou Restaurant and Kalaekilohana. For information and tickets, contact Kalaekilohana at 808-939-8052.

Coffee tasting

Second, the Triple C Recipe Contest, hosted by Ka‘ū Coffee Mill on Wood Valley Road above Pāhala, is 2 p.m. Sunday, May 6. Triple C stands for cookies, candies and crackers made with Ka‘ū coffee. Judges include local chef Brad Hirata. Listen to Hawaiian music with Keoki and Moses Kahumoku, tour the new Ka‘ū Coffee Mill, cheer on the recipe contest entrants and sample the delectable entries as they vie to become a signature Ka‘ū Coffee Mill product. Grand prize is $500; other prizes will be awarded in each category. The contest is co-sponsored by Pahala Plantation Cottages, OK Farms and Edmund C. Olson Trust. For contest rules, visit kaucoffeemill.com. or call 808-928-9811.

Hawaii has the best coffee in the world

Third, on Saturday May 12, get set for the 4th Annual Ka‘ū Coffee Festival Ho‘olaule‘a featuring the Ka‘ū Coffee Experience in the heritage town of Pāhala. Attendees can sample Ka‘ū coffees prepared in a wide variety of brewing methods while chatting with 2011 U.S. Barista Champion Pete Licata. Festival highlights include day-long live entertainment featuring music by Cyril Pahinui, Keoki and Moses Kahumoku and a host of others, plus hula, local food and crafts, farm and mill tours and lots of internationally renowned Ka‘ū coffee. Festival entry is free. Entry to the Ka‘ū Coffee Experience and tours are $10. Visit kaucoffeefest.com for frequent updates and a schedule of events.

Finally, on Sunday, May 13, the Ka‘ū Coffee College returns with its reverse trade mission and educational series. Notable guest speakers include Jeff Taylor, co-founder of PT’s Coffee Roasting Company in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Anthony Carroll, manager of Coffee Quality for Starbucks. Dr. Robert Hollingsworth, research entomologist with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, will share strategies for optimizing the cost effectiveness of controlling coffee berry borer.

Got Kau Coffee?

Ka‘ū Coffee Festival – Ka‘ū burst onto the specialty coffee scene by winning numerous awards over several years. These awards highlight the unique combination of people and place that help make Ka‘ū coffee a favorite across the globe. The Ka‘ū Coffee Festival’s mission is to raise awareness of Ka‘ū and its growers as a world-class coffee growing origin. Visit kaucoffeefest.com or call 808-929-9550. Vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available. The Festival is supported in part by the County of Hawai‘i Department of Research and Development and Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.