November 22, 2017
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Legislative Alert! Help Needed by Monday 2:45 pm

LEGISLATIVE ALERT!  WE NEED YOUR HELP.
 
WE NEED EACH KCFA MEMBER TO SUBMIT WRITTEN TESTIMONY TO THE SENATE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE ASKING THAT THE STATE OF HAWAII RECOGNIZE CBB AS A DIRE EMERGENCY FOR COFFEE FARMERS.
The Background—HB353 (CBB Research and Farmer Support)—This bill was introduced by Kona Representative Nicole Lowen and provides for $500,000 for emergency CBB research by the Hilo-based Pacific Basin Agriculture Research Center (part of the US Department of Agriculture) in FY 2013-2014 and another $500,000 in FY 2014-2015.  The Lowen bill also provides for $330,000 for CBB mitigation in FY 2013-2014.  In a meeting in late January with Rep. Lowen, KCFA members emphasized the dire emergency CBB poses for Kona coffee growers; that the State needs to recognize the emergency–and to act accordingly. We told Rep. Lowen that while an expenditure of $1.33 million is supported by the KCFA as a step in the right direction, even more emergency funding is needed—or the Kona coffee may be lost as an economically viable crop.On February 14, the House Finance Committee held a hearing on HB353.  More than 90 separate pieces of written testimony were submitted—all in support of the bill—EXCEPT for the testimony of HDOA Chair Rulssell Kokubun which stated a non-committal “support the intent” position.  After the hearing, the Finance Committee gutted the bill by removing all of the PBARC emergency research appropriation.  The CBB mitigation appropriation was reduced to $300,000, delayed for a full year, and made contingent on $200,000 in matching funds—that is, none of the $300,000 will actually be spent unless a minimum of $200,000 is obtained from some outside source.
The bill (now known as “HB353, HD1″) has crossed to the Senate and will be given a hearing by the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday, March 12, at 2:45 in Honolulu.  This is a last chance for coffee farmers to request that the appropriations be restored to the original levels and that the committee adopt Rep. Lowen’s  “Original HB353” –which is uniformly supported by farmers, processors, roasters and blenders.
HERE IS WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1—No later than 2:45 pm on Monday, March 11, email your testimony to–  AGLtestimony@capitol.hawaii.gov
2—Use the following heading:
To: The Senate Agriculture Committee
From:  [your name and farm name]
Re: Hearing on HB353, HD1, March 12, 2013 at 2:45 pm, Conference Room 229
TESTIMONY IN SUPPORT OF THE “ORIGINAL HB353” AND IN OPPOSITION TO “HB353/HD1”
3—Your testimony does not need to be lengthy.  The more you can individualize and personalize the testimony, the better.
4—Items you may want to cover in your testimony:
The Hawaii coffee industry is united on this issue—CBB is an emergency. It needs to be treated as an emergency by the State.
Coffee may be lost as one of Hawaii’s heritage crops if a program and plan to effectively contain CBB in a cost effective way is not developed soon.
The CBB emergency has received precious little attention from the State of Hawaii in the two and half years since it was discovered in Kona.
Emergency research is needed to adapt mitigation techniques used in other parts of the world to unique conditions of Hawaii—in ways that are practical for Hawaii farmers.
The scientists at PBARC are some of the best in the world, they are located in Hawaii County, and they have indicated to Rep. Lowen that they are ready to begin work on research to develop effective CBB mitigation techniques.
The Abercrombie administration has not treated CBB as an emergency.  Example—Last year when the Legislature passed HB283 appropriating $196,000 for CBB mitigation, Department of Agriculture Chair Russell Kokubun asked the Governor to veto the bill, while promising that he would replace the appropriation with $200,000 from the Department’s share of the oil import barrel tax. The Governor vetoed the bill—but the Department has not yet spent a single dollar of the promised money–more than eight months later.
The Legislature has not treated CBB as an emergency.Example–Despite more than 90 separate written testimonies from the Hawaii coffee community uniformly supporting emergency action, the House Finance Committee ignored the testimony and stripped more than 75% of the appropriations from the Lowen bill.–Two and a half years have passed since CBB infestations in Hawaii County were discovered—and yet State of Hawaii has not developed a coherent program to effectively address the CBB emergency.  No one has taken change; there has been little coordination; very little progress has been made in developing a comprehensive program for CBB mitigation in Hawaii County.
The money to combat CBB can and should be found.  The HDOA has a budget exceeding $40+ million.  The HDOA receives an additional $3+ million per year in oil import barrel tax revenues.  The Agribusiness Development Corporation continues to receive more than generous appropriations. If the priorities are corrected, the money for CBB mitigation is available.

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