A Brief History of (KCFA) Time Respectfully submitted by Louise Hanna, founding member KCFA
There are two business models for farmers. One model is the grower wholesaler i.e. (Cherry Seller). That is the farmer simply grows and sells the wholesale product to someone else who will process and distribute the final product to the consumer. The second model is the vertical retailer, where the farmer grows the coffee and sells directly to the consumer, either in green coffee to baristas or roasted coffee to consumers i.e. (Kona Coffee Estate Farmer). It is the farmer’s choice which model they prefer to pursue, and both models have their advantages and disadvantages for the farmer. Both models are pursued in Kona. Historically the processors were really fine with the Cherry Seller model. They had the raw product to process as they wished whether 100% Kona or blended coffee which actually for them produces more profit because of lower wholesale costs. This is not only true in the coffee business but also in all agricultural markets. Steinbeck wrote about this in East of Eden and the Grapes of Wrath. In agriculture the person who sells to the consumer is the one who makes the profit not the grower. In Kona, the farmers who were pursuing the grower wholesale model wanted a fair price for their cherry and the farmers pursuing the vertical model wanted to be the sellers to the consumer. The vertical model deals out the middle man or external corporation profit. So in the mid 80’s the Kona Coffee Council was formed by farmers to promote the Heritage Crop of Kona Coffee, to assist the farmers by providing educational opportunities and by gaining a voice both for Kona Coffee and both models of operation. I think our voice got a bit too loud for the processors and in 2006 the elections of the Kona Coffee Council were high jacked by the large processors and blenders by stuffing the ballot box with absentee ballots of every farm worker in Kona. No kidding. So the KCFA was formed to give the voice back to the farmers.
The KCFA in its formation decided that only actual farmers could vote. Farmers are vetted and only then are their memberships accepted by the KCFA Board to insure the continuing strength of independent Kona Coffee farmers. Other non-voting memberships are available as Supporting Business members and as Associate members.
Remembering the history of that 2006 election provides caution to the idea of The KCFA being collaborative with the Kona Coffee Council. There is a definite conflict of interest between the two organizations.
Kona Coffee farmers, no matter which model they follow, recognize that The KCFA’s goals are:
To promote 100% Kona Coffee
To protect the Kona Coffee Heritage Crop
To protect the Kona Coffee name, thus to eliminate deceptive 10% Kona Blends from the market place
Work toward the economic benefit of the individual farmer.
As George Santayana d.1952 said “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” in The Life of Reason Vol.1, Reason in common sense 1905-06