HONOLULU, Hawaii – A bill that would send $3 million dollars to Hawaii Island to assist in the fight against the coffee berry borer passed through the House Finance Committee Thursday.
HB 1514 was introduced by Kona Representative Nicole Lowen. It will put $250,000 towards CBB education and mitigation activities through College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) at the University of Hawaii, and $2,750,000 for the Department of Agriculture to develop, operate, and implement a pesticide subsidy program.
In recent years the coffee berry borer beetle has become a major threat to Hawaii’s coffee industry, which is responsible for $30 million in revenue annually. A media release issued by the House said that although the fight has been undertaken by the volunteer CBB task force in the past, this time the state and the University of Hawaii will implement the programs. “The coffee berry borer task force has done their best,” said Rep. Nicole Lowen in the media release, “but, as a group of volunteers, they lack the time and expertise to implement a program on the scale needed to get the infestation under control. With the help of DOA and CTAHR, we can get a lot more done. With this bill, I think we have finally hit on a possible long-term solution,” Lowen said.
“Funding to combat the coffee berry borer (CBB) infestation is clearly critical,” Lowen added, “but we need to do more than throw money at the issue. If this bill passes, we will finally be getting direct assistance through a Department of Agriculture subsidy program, and dedicated full-time employees through CTAHR to reach out to farmers and educate them on what to do.”
“We appreciate the concern and assistance of Rep. Lowen in the battle against the coffee berry borer,” said Scott Enright, acting chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “Coordinated efforts between the industry and agricultural agencies are the only way that we will turn the tide against this devastating pest.”
The bill will head to the senate following an expected approval on from the House on third reading.
Status of bills represent up-to-date information via State Legislative website
HB1514 – RELATING TO AGRICULTURE
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