Testimony to the Legislature needed: Please send in by 10:40 am Sunday!
We need (again) KCFA members and supporters to send email testimony in opposition to SB111/SD2. At the last minute, the Senate Agriculture Committee inserted new language into what had been introduced as a “blank bill”. On February 26 the Senate Agriculture, Consumer Protection and Ways and Means Committees approved the bill which is now scheduled for hearing by the HOUSE AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE ON MONDAY, MARCH 10 AT 10:40 AM.
This bill would essentially wipe away all current agriculture product labeling laws and give the Board of Agriculture a totally free hand to write new labeling regulations. If the Board of Agriculture was to bow to pressures from powerful corporate marketers, the result could be new regulations permitting such products as “10% Hawaii Chocolate Blends”, “5% Kona Coffee Blends”; “2% Hawaiian Taro Blends”, etc.–with no disclosure on the % of genuine/real content or the percentage or origin of the non-Hawaii-Grown content in packages of agricultural products.
This is a very dangerous bill. The Legislature would be abandoning its responsibility to set policy.
Please submit email testimony as indicated below. Your testimony must be sent by 10:40 am on Sunday, March 9.
There is suggested Testimony below which you can use in preparing your own. It is best to personalize your testimony.
Here is what you need to do to submit your testimony:
1. Go here: http://www.capitol.hawaii.gov/
2. In the Upper right hand corner, “Sign In” or “Register” (First Time users must Register)
3. Fill out form and “agree”
4. Submit Testimony for SB111 after you’ve signed in successfully- by entering SB111 in top left corner, which will take you to the next page where there is a large blue button, near the top of the page that says<Submit Testimony>
Dear House Agriculture Committee Members:
I am a Hawaii farmer and I submit this testimony in strong opposition to SB111/SD2.
This bill was cobbled onto a “blank bill” at the last minute, it is ill-considered, and represents an abandonment of the Legislature’s responsibility to make public policy decisions.
Currently Hawaii is the only region anywhere in the world that authorizes the use of the name of its specialty agricultural crops on packages containing only 10% genuine content. For example, the name “Kona” may be used on packages of 10% coffee blends without any express indication on the label that 90% of the contents is foreign-grown coffee and without any disclosure of the actual origin of that 90%. The Hawaii Legislature has recognized the damage caused this type of deceptive labeling when it made the following finding of fact: “EXISTING LABELING REQUIREMENTS FOR KONA COFFEE CAUSES CONSUMER FRAUD AND CONFUSION AND DEGRADES THE ‘KONA COFFEE’ NAME.” (SCR102, 2007)
But rather than taking a clear step in the direction of reform of labeling for Hawaii agricultural products to conform to basic principles of truth-in-labeling and fair marketing, SB111/SD2 clearly risks a step in the wrong direction. The bill would essentially erase all labeling laws for agricultural products and give a totally free hand to an un-elected bureaucratic board (the Board of Agriculture) to re-write agricultural labeling requirements.
The bill contains no policy directives, no restrictions and no limitations from the Legislature as to what regulations this board may adopt. Nothing in the bill would prevent the board from bowing to pressure from powerful corporate marketers of agriculture products and proceeding to adopt regulations, for example, permitting “10% Hawaiian Chocolate Blends”, or “5% Kona Coffee Blends”, or “2% Hawaiian Taro” with no disclosure of the actual percentage of genuine contents or disclosure of the origin and percentage of the non-Hawaii-grown contents in the package.
At the very minimum, SB111/SD2 should be amended to require that all packages of agricultural products which use the name “Hawaii”, “Hawaiian” or any Hawaii place name on the label– (1) contain a minimum of 51% genuine Hawaii-Grown content and –(2) prominent identification of the origin and % of non-Hawaii-grown contents on the label.
The Hawaii Legislature and your Committee need to stand up for Hawaii farmers. The Hawaii Legislature should provide the same types of label and marketing protection for Hawaii farmers as California has provided to its Napa Valley grape growers, Idaho has provided for Idaho potato farmers, Vermont has provided for Vermont maple sugar producers, and Georgia has provided to Vidalia onion farmers.
Please reject SB111/SD2.
[Name and Farm Name]