Bylaw change 2019. This is a key decision for our membership. The amendment was accepted by the majority of Board Members and we are taking the step of providing you with the pro vs con discussion in order to vote on Sunday , January 27, 2019.
The current Bylaws (login first to view here) state:
Article V.3. Board members shall not hold office in any other Hawaii coffee organization.
The motion to change reads:
Article V.3. Board members shall not hold office in any other Hawaii coffee organization unless authorized by vote of the Board of Directors. Such authorizations must be renewed annually by the Board.
Testimony in favor of the amendment:
Organizations are living entities, and must grow and adapt as needed. This bylaw change would give the board the flexibility to consider whether to join another board, such as the Hawaii Coffee Association. It does not mean we would, it means we could.
The founding bylaw was written in 2006 with good intent. We had just seen one organization unethically taken over and we needed to ensure that KCFA did not “lose its soul”. But the language to prevent a takeover is covered under bylaw III.1. Quite frankly, the HCA could benefit from a strong Kona coffee voice on their board. They receive large sums of grant money each year, and spend a lot of money marketing Hawaiian coffee globally. From my perspective, HCA promotes other regions over ours, and does not focus on Kona Typica, at all. We stand on the outside, and our voice is lost.
Kona coffee is a global brand. KCFA has long sought to protect that brand. When State and Federal marketing dollars are used to build the Hawaii brand at the expense of the Kona brand, it is our KCFA farmers that lose out.
The HCA board has a number of small Maui and Ka’u farmers. They are our allies. I know from personal experience that they share our goals: fighting counterfeiting, growing sales, and protecting our crops. We certainly don’t agree with all of HCA’s goals, but we can’t change them from the outside. From the inside, with new allies, we might.
~Suzanne Shriner, President KCFA
Testimony against the amendment:
Section V.3 was included in KCFA’s initial by-laws to protect farmers’ “independent voice” and to lessen the risk that KCFA be taken over by the blenders and their processor allies—as happened to the Kona Coffee Council (KCC) in 2006.
The rationale given for amending V.3 is that it would “allow KCFA to take a seat on the Hawaii Coffee Association’s board.”
The following history illustrates the risk:
1–Prior to 2003 (when KCC was run by farmers), HCA provided KCC a seat on the HCA board.
2–In 2003 KCC President Christine Sheppard was attacked and humiliated at an HCA board meeting because of KCC’s public support for changing the 10% blend law. KCC was accused of failing its obligations as an HCA board member and undermining HCA’s declared “consensus of the coffee industry” that 10% blends are good for farmers.
3–KCC left the HCA. That prompted HCA’s blenders and allies to develop a plan to take over the KCC with proxy votes for newly purchased memberships.
4–At the 2006 KCC General Meeting the takeover was accomplished when Roger Kaiwi-Machen filled out and cast 109 proxy votes and Greenwell Farms’ office manager cast 25.
HCA is, has been, and will continue to be dominated by blenders and processors—for their economic benefit. Their economic interests and the HCA “consensus” on issues such as 10% blends, cherry prices, and origin protection are adverse to the interests of farmers.
To preserve KCFA’s independent voice, Section V.3 should remain as is.
~Bruce Corker, Chair of KCFA Legislative Committee