Categorized | Agriculture

KCFA reacts to HB280 passing into law


Gov. Neil Abercrombie has decided to allow HB280 (the repeal of mandatory certification of coffee) to become law without his signature rather than follow through on his announced intent to veto the bill.

This failure of political will represents the abandonment of consumer protection, the “Hawaii” brand and hundreds of small-scale Hawaiian farmers.

The governor, like so many before him, has bowed to mainland money interests that profit from the ruthless marketing of Hawaii’s agricultural products — sugar, pineapple and now coffee.

Topa Equities is one of the largest conglomerates in the United States and is the sole owner of Paradise Beverages, Hawaii’s largest distributor of beer and spirits. Paradise Beverages owns the Hawaii Coffee Company, Honolulu’s largest coffee roaster and coffee marketer.

The Hawaii Coffee Company had HB280 introduced and ramrodded it through the legislature. HCC and its allies will now benefit from HB 280’s elimination of mandatory certification of coffee quality.

No longer subject to required quality inspections they will be free to legally pass off vast amounts of substandard coffee as “Kona” or one of Hawaii’s other specialty coffees.

Last year, HCC promoted HB1552, a bill that prohibited the word “Kona” from being used first in a product name unless it was in fact 100% Kona coffee.

HB1552 made it illegal for HCC’s primary competitor, Hawaiian Isles Kona Coffee Company, to use the trade name “Kona Classic” but allowed HCC to continue to use the equally deceptive trade name “Royal Kona.”

At most this was “faux consumer protection” that merely promoted HCC’s deceptive branding at a competitor’s expense.

Bruce Corker, Kona Coffee Farmers Association Legislative Committee Chairman, said: “For the second year in a row the governor has bowed to pressure from HCC and let bills HCC wrote and promoted to become law over the objections of small farmers. Where is the courage and integrity touted in the 2010 campaign?”

The Governor’s 2010 campaign promise of a “Renaissance” for Hawaii agriculture has now been shown to be just “Rhetoric” for Hawaii agriculture.

When the interests of Hawaii farmers come into conflict with mainland money, the governor has followed the money.

When told that the governor would let HB280 become law, KCFA president Cecelia Smith said: “If Hawaii agriculture is to have a true renaissance, the state needs to actively support specialty crop and small family farms. Now we will wait for another Kona Kai scandal to happen,”

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4 Responses to “KCFA reacts to HB280 passing into law”

  1. waimeajim says:

    This is the chance that the Kona coffee growers should be applauding; band together, and stop selling ‘Kona’ coffee to the dealers in question. No supply, no branding of the ‘so called’ blends.
    Re-brand your product and sell it as premium 100 percent.
    No junk on the market=higher prices for all Kona growers….

  2. Good idea, but only in theory: 85% of all coffee cherry (the fruit) is sold directly from 100s of small farms to a handful of huge processors. They produce generic Kona, not Estate (single origin end product). Most, if not all, of the mega millers, such as Greenwell, have pushed for this legislation–because the grading process takes too long. Poppycock: take the money that comes in from the inspections and hire another inspector. The end. Now, with this legislation, the Kona name will be watered down–not only by the already reckless “10% blenders”, but by all those who are rubbing their hands in anticipation of higher mega-sales. Not because green coffee can be sold faster (the standard answer of the Big Boys), but because all kinds of crap can now be sold as Kona. Shame on all of you: You are destroying the Brand. The only way out for me: I will continue to have all of my Organic Kona Estate certified by the Hawaii Department of Ag, and gladly continue to wait and pay. I will also develop a sticker/stamp/text on all of my coffee and Sales Invoices: This coffee is “State Certified Kona”. If you don’t get proof of State Certification, you may be paying a lot of money for counterfeit crap.

  3. Well, if Kona Coffee Farmers, I mean FARMERS, could get together on this, and find some grant money, they should found a COOP that buys cherry and sells ONLY State Certified Green Kona Coffee.

  4. ken love says:

    Hans, your right about the need for a REAL coop, not the farce that exists now with only 12 members with 8 farms. I real coop with real inspection and top notch marketing with a world perspective could turn it around. The government will not do it for you — obviously. No grants will give you all you need. You need some people to see the light who have the resources. Its a worthwhile fight.


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