In a federal court class action lawsuit, Kona coffee farmers have recovered more than $15 million in settlement payments from companies accused of marketing fraudulent Kona coffee. More effective than lawsuits, however, would be active enforcement of fair labeling laws by the FDA. What ideas do you have to accomplish that?
The first policy that comes to mind is utilizing a similar approach that France does with champagne. In that, the French government is very protective of the types of wine that can be named champagne and provides ample resources to enacting bilateral trade deals with other nations and enforcement efforts to protect the name of the product.
In recent years invasive species such as Coffee Berry Borer, Coffee Leaf Rust, and Avocado Lace Bug have been introduced into Hawaii and are drastically reducing the income of farmers. What can you do to bring federal funds or subsidies directly to farmers to combat these destructive new agricultural pests?
I support amending the Farm Bill to diversify the types of crops covered by federal farm subsidies and focus such subsidies on small, family farms. Currently, almost all farm subsidies go to the production of corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, and rice. In Congress, I will work to diversify the types of crops that the federal government subsidizes to include agricultural products that we grow here in Hawai’i. Furthermore, farm subsidies have historically gone to the farms with the highest revenue. For example, under the federal Market Facilitation Program, the top 10% of farmer recipients received 58% of the program’s funds, while the bottom 80% of farmer recipients received only 23% of the program’s funds. As a Representative, I will work to provide greater subsidies to small family farms. Furthermore, I support having these federal subsidies be flexible so farmers can use them in the manner they see the best fit, which could include combatting invasive species.
When we fly to the mainland, USDA agents scan luggage and remove fruits, vegetables and other plant material to prevent damage to mainland farms. When we fly into Hawaii, there is a voluntary disclosure system and “Amnesty Bins”--and no involvement on the part of the USDA. What are your ideas on how to bring the same type of USDA protections to Hawaii farmers as provided to mainland farmers?
If proven effective, I would support inbound agricultural screening funded fully by the federal government and conducted either by the USDA or the State of Hawai’i. It appears that the best solution that protects Hawai’i’s agricultural industry is to do the same for Hawai’i as we do for the mainland. I am also open to other ideas for federally funded programs to protect Hawai’i’s agricultural industry.
Please close by telling us a bit more about yourself and your commitment to agriculture. Mahalo!
What separates our campaign from every other campaign in this race is that we are not taking any special interest and corporate money – or what we like to call legal political bribes. The people of Hawai’i and the United States deserve universal healthcare, good union jobs, secure retirement, a green future, and an end to militarism. The political establishment and corporate Democrats in Hawai’i have failed the people of our islands on all these counts, leading our state to have polluted water, unaffordable housing, a public health crisis, an epidemic of violence, and a defunct public education system. These crises are the expected result when we continue to elect people who take legal political bribes and have continuously proven that they will put their political careers ahead of their constituents’ best interests. Our campaign is offering an alternative. This campaign is a movement demanding progressive change that puts people, planet, and peace first. We are running a campaign based on policies like establishing Medicare for All, enacting a Green New Deal, and ending foreign wars, among sixty other progressive policies to improve the lives of working people on our islands and throughout the United States. To learn more about our campaign and what we stand for, visit brendanschultz.com