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Farmers Asking For Immediate Suspension of Green Coffee Imports

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, October 30, 2010

Farmers Asking For Immediate Suspension of Green Coffee Imports
The Kona Coffee Farmers Association has passed a Resolution (entire text may be found here: Resolution Calling for the Immediate Suspension of Green Coffee Imports Into Hawai’i) calling for an immediate suspension of green coffee imports into the State of Hawaii. The decision was made by a Board vote on October 19th, 2010, shortly after the discovery of Coffee Berry Borer in Kona’s coffee trees, and follows more than five years of requests to the HDOA to re-examine whether Hawaii’s import laws were sufficiently protecting Hawaii’s heritage crop from infestation by pests prevalent in other coffee growing regions.

How did our Hawaii State Department of Agriculture fail us? How did the devastating pest get into Hawaii?” asked Christine Sheppard, a former Kona Coffee farmer. Continuing Sheppard said , “One of the most critical duties of the HDOA is to prevent introduction and spread of pests and diseases harmful to Hawaii agriculture.”

Because of its extreme isolation, Hawaii has been one of only two places in the world free of the Coffee Cherry Borer. Imported green coffee is regularly brought into Kailua-Kona and places in the State of Hawaii to be mixed with 100% Kona to create Kona Blends and to create other coffee mixtures. “Hawaii, unlike other coffee growing regions, allows importation of green coffee and the only way to stop any further destruction and avoid the even more devastating coffee rust, is to ban green imports immediately”, said Bruce Corker, President of the KCFA.

Coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix) is a fungus which begins by destroying coffee leaves and eventually entire farms, and it arrives as a microscopic spore. “That would end coffee cultivation as it has been for the last 182 years in Kona”, said Kona coffee farmer Bob Smith. Fully participating with the state-wide Coffee Cherry Borer Task Force, the Kona Coffee Farmers Association has appointed Smith as its delegate. Smith continued, “Green imports should be immediately banned into Hawaii if we want to keep our heritage Kona coffee viable”.

KCFAs long-standing Position Statement on Green Coffee Imports