An email sent to all active KCFA Members on March 13, 2013
Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the Legislative Committee of our Kona Coffee Farmers Association, we have SUCCEEDED!
As many are aware, in January Kona Representative Nicole Lowen introduced a very important bill to address our CBB Emergency. Rep. Lowen’s bill (“HB353”) provides for $500,000 in emergency CBB research by the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center (a USDA agency based in Hilo) and $330,000 in CBB assistance for farmers in FY2013-14–and another $500,000 in emergency CBB research by PBARC in FY2014-15.
On February 14, the House Finance Committee surprisingly stripped all the research funding from the bill and reduced the farmer assistance funding to $300,000–and delayed even that reduced expenditure for a full year to FY2014-15.
The stripped down bill (“HD1”) crossed from the House to the Senate and was given a hearing yesterday, March 12, by the Senate Agriculture Committee. There were seven in-person testifiers at the hearing. Bruce Corker (for KCFA) and David Case (for the Hawaii Farmers Union United) testified in favor of restoring the provisions of the “Original HB353” and in opposition to “HD1”. They emphasized that CBB in Hawaii County is a genuine emergency and should be treated as such by the State of Hawaii.
There were five testifiers who in their testimony to Committee members either supported “HD1” or did not request restoration of the research funding: Chris Manfredi (Ka’u Farm Bureau); Jim Wayman (Hawaii Coffee Association); Chair Russell Kokubun (Hawaii Department of Agriculture); Roger Kaiwi (Kona Coffee Council); and Brian Miyamoto (State Farm Bureau). [Note: Kona County Farm Bureau President Stefanie Delmont submitted written testimony in support of the “Original HB353” and in opposition to “HD1”.]
In addition, Committee Chairman Clarence Nishihara read the names and noted the support or opposition of each person who submitted written testimony—including more than 40 people who submitted in support of the “Original HB353” and in opposition to “HD1”. These written testimonies were critical. [To review the written testimony–got to the Legislature’s website (http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov); enter “HB353” in the box for “Bill Status”; then click on “Testimony” for AGL.]
After discussion and deliberation, the Committee voted 4-0 to listen to the voice of coffee farmers and restored the “Original HB353”.
This was a very important step in the right direction –BUT THERE IS MORE TO BE DONE. This measure still needs approval from the Senate Ways and Means Committee; and approval by a Legislative Conference Committee; and the signature of the Governor before it becomes law. We may be contacting KCFA members again soon to ask that you send written testimony in support of full funding of the Lowen Bill.
Many thanks to each of you who sent written testimony to the Senate Agriculture Committee. That testimony made a difference!