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Hawaii Delegation introduces legislation to protect US coffee production

Hawaii coffee production

The Hawaii Delegation: Senators Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and Representatives Ed Case and Kaialiʻi Kahele, has introduced bicameral legislation to enable research funding to address all current and emerging threats to the United States macadamia nut and coffee production industries.

“As our agricultural community continuously fights new invasive pests, resources provided by these two bills would be instrumental in protecting two of Hawaii’s signature crops: coffee and macadamia nuts,” says Senator Hirono.

“I look forward to working with my delegation colleagues on these bills so that our producers are equipped to face current and future threats to these crops.”

The Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act (CPHIAA) and Macadamia Tree Health Initiative Amendments Act (MTHIAA) would remove existing restrictions on the limited scope of research and grant funding for the coffee plant and macadamia tree.

“Coffee and Macadamia nuts are uniquely Hawai‘i crops which support local jobs and are the mainstays of Hawai‘i agriculture,” says Senator Schatz. “We must keep them competitive, and that begins with science-based management.”

Under current law, research for both crops only address two invasive and harmful species: the macadamia felted coccid (MFC) and coffee berry borer (CBB). The CPHIAA and MTHIAA expands research to address all macadamia tree and coffee plant pests and weeds.

“As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have partnered with Congressman Kahele and others to secure millions of dollars in federal research funding for Hawaii’s tropical specialty crops like coffee and macadamia nut,” says Congressman Ed Case.

“While our funding has helped mitigate the effects of the macadamia felted coccid, coffee berry border and coffee leaf rust, current law limits the scope of federal research dollars. These two measures will greatly enhance our ability to fund much more comprehensive coffee and macadamia nut research to preserve and grow these invaluable industries.”

The annual combined farmgate value (market value minus selling cost) of macadamia nuts and coffee is more than US$100 million. The CPHIAA and MTHIAA are widely supported by macadamia nut and coffee farmers across Hawaii and the US.

“Healthy and vibrant macadamia and coffee industries are pivotal to strengthening Hawaii’s agricultural community. These amendments help our farmers protect their crops and livelihoods against any emerging threats,” says Congressman Kaialiʻi Kahele. “I’m proud to have the support of the entire Hawaii Delegation to help these industries rebound, grow, and better compete in a global market.”

The Hawaii Macadamia Nut Association and Hawaiʻi Coffee Association have both announced their support of the legislations relevant to their respective industries.

“This important legislation enables the targeting of resources toward the most immediate threats facing coffee in Hawaii today,” says Chris Manfredi, President of the Hawaii Coffee Association.

“In addition it is forward thinking by anticipating future threats and enables researchers to quickly pivot as they emerge. We thank the introducers, sponsors and supporters of this measure as it will greatly contribute to the survival of one of Hawaii’s most important crops.”

Suzanne Shriner, Administrator for the Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council, says the bills will ensure that Hawaii’s small growers are able to access research and technology for the new challenges that arise on their farms

“Coffee is a vital part of most people’s day, but we rarely spend time thinking about the plant behind the bean,” Shriner says.

“Hawaii’s Kona coffee is prized as one of the world’s best, however, new threats such as Leaf Rust and a changing climate have led to gaps in our research and barriers in the marketplace. We support this initiative, and recognize that it will provide benefits to all who enjoy a good cup of coffee.”

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