Kona’s coffee farmers recognize and very much appreciate the unanimous adoption last fall of County Council Resolution No. 223-21 asking the Legislature to change the 10% coffee blend labeling law to a minimum of 51%. As farmer efforts for coffee labeling reform continue, what do you believe the County Council can do by way of additional support?
As the introducer of this legislation and someone who testified at every hearing of the state measure in the legislature, I am hopeful that we can work together again with Representative Lowen to ensure that a new bill is re-introduced in the next session and hopefully passed with support from the study that is to be completed now.
Hawaii County is the preeminent agricultural county in the state, but the County does not have a separate County Department of Agriculture. Will you pledge to work for creating such a department to support farmers—and, in particular, to support farmer efforts to combat recently introduced invasive pests like Coffee Berry Borer, Coffee Leaf Rust, and Avocado Lace Bug?
Currently, I believe the County is not in a position to stand up a new department of agriculture. However, I do support the creation of new positions within the County Department of Research and Development which will focus on agricultural production in our County. In addition, as invasive species are the kuleana of the state, I would like to see more effort on the part of our state legislature and administration to support our farmers in dealing with related issues.
Because of COVID, the Legislature set up a system for testimony to committee hearings via Zoom. For neighbor island residents, this system for live virtual testimony (like what the Hawaii County Council and the Alaska Legislature has had in place for years) allowed Hawaii County residents to give testimony in 2021 and 2022 without the expense or loss of a day resulting from travel to Honolulu. Will you introduce and support a resolution asking the Legislature to enact a law making the system for live virtual testimony permanent?
Yes, I have begun drafting a resolution to be introduced at Council to allow for continued public testimony to be accepted via Zoom at the legislature.
Please close by telling us a bit more about yourself and your commitment to agriculture. Mahalo!
As someone born and raised in Kona with deep ties to the Kona coffee industry, I will continue to work on behalf of our farmers within the the council's scope of influence and in advocating at the legislature on behalf of farmers as well. Your support in allowing me to continue this good work is greatly appreciated.