Kona Coffee Farmers Association Questions to West Hawaii County Council Candidates
On October 15, 2014, the Hawaii County Council unanimously adopted Resolution No. 501-14 requesting the State Legislature to adopt legislation requiring the use of Hawaii geographic-origin names in the labeling or advertising of a Hawaii coffee blend only if the blend contains at least 51% from that origin. The Resolution noted that in 2007 the Legislature had made a finding that Hawaii’s 10% coffee blend labeling law causes “fraud” and “degrades” the name of Hawaii-grown coffee. Despite the Hawaii County Council’s formal request, over the last 5 Sessions the Legislature has failed to enact bills with this long-needed reform—bills that have been repeatedly introduced and supported by Hawaii County representatives in the Legislature. [See, for example, HB 1886 HD1 in the 2020 Session]
IF ELECTED, WILL YOU INTRODUCE AND SUPPORT A RESOLUTION IN THE COUNCIL RENEWING AND RESTATING THE REQUESTS OF RESOLUTION NO. 501-14, AND ASKING THE LEGISLATURE TO ENACT WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY THE REFORMS TO THE STATE’S COFFEE LABELING LAW?
IF YES, WHAT ADDITIONAL ACTIONS WILL YOU TAKE IN SEEKING ENACTMENT OF THIS LEGISLATION INTO LAW?
Candidate for District 6:
Maile David: Yes. Will continue to submit support testimony as I have in the past. If Council agenda deadlines as well as legislative hearing notices can be coordinated, a council resolution would be ideal. Historically, advance notice of legislative hearings has only allowed enough lead time to submit written support testimony.
n this election year, encourage newly elected and re-elected State Senators and Representatives to introduce legislation and advocate for geographic origin names of coffee blends if at least 51% is from that origin.
Candidates for District 7:
Jane Clement: The time for the legislature to reform the state’s coffee labeling law is long overdue. Kona Coffee is a premium product, grown by a dedicated group of farmers who seek quality over quantity. If we are serious about supporting local agriculture, then we must continue to introduce these resolutions in the Council to show our support and determination for the recognition of the Kona Coffee brand, and protection of its name.
While introducing and passing resolutions are important to demonstrate our resolve and intent, we must do more concrete actions to move this at the state level. If elected I will work with the coffee farmers, my fellow Council members, the County administration, and our colleagues in the State Legislature to bring this matter to the forefront, to pass meaningful legislation that amends the current labeling laws. Kona Coffee is a premium product and deserves to have a premium value. Anything less is unacceptable.
Rebecca Villegas: YES!!! If re-elected for a second term, I intend to introduce a Resolution restating the requests of Resolution No. 501-14. I also intend to work closely with our House and State Representatives to reform the State’s Coffee Labeling Law. In my first term I sent written testimony to the Committee on Agriculture and Environment urging them to pass HB 144 HD1. I spoke out passionately in support of the Bill during a video interview for the University of Hawaii and a written piece featured in Civil Beat.
I believe it is time to shed light on the corporate connections that are infiltrating the State Government and hindering them from making unbiased and equitable business decisions relative to the coffee industry. As we navigate our way through the economic crisis caused by COVID, we must take this opportunity to realign and embrace a resilient circular economy by protecting, supporting and valuing our agricultural resources.
I also hope to work side by side with Colehour Bondera if we are both elected. He is a seasoned farmer and expert in Kona Coffee. I believe that together we could forge the relationships, demand the changes, and support the transition to an honest Kona Coffee labeling law.
Candidates for District 8:
Holeka Goro Inaba: Yes, I will work together with local farmers, Senator Kanuha, and Representative Lowen to ensure that we protect the integrity of Kona coffee and those who give selflessly to ensure its tradition and quality.
Craig Bo Kahui: Yes