The Associated Press: Hawaii farmers get federal help after emissions

(AP) – Nov 30, 2009

HONOLULU — The U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated the Big Island a primary natural disaster area because of losses farmers suffered from volcanic emissions this year.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday that he and President Barack Obama understand the emissions from Kilauea volcano caused serious harm to farms.

Vilsack says the designation will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses in the cut flower and fresh produce industries.

The Big Island was designated a natural disaster area Nov. 24.

The action makes qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency loans.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

The Associated Press: Hawaii farmers get federal help after emissions

The Amazing Maze of US Health Care–Logic, facts, socialism, fascism, guns and health care

Amazing seems a most appropriate word to describe the financing and delivery of health care services in the United States of America.
James L. McGee, CEBS--On Health Care Reform

Logic, facts, socialism, fascism, guns and health care

November 28th, 2009

When a 2,000 page piece of legislation traverses the legislative sausage making process, it is a large target for those who want to take pot shots.

When you are trying to fix a system that is broken in lots of places, it is not an easy process.

Let’s remember what we are trying to fix.

The system does not cover everybody.  Estimates on the number of uninsured range from 30 million to 70 million depending on whom and how you are counting.

It’s expensive.  Our economy already sets aside more resources per person than any other country on the planet.  We pay more in taxes for health care than any other country on the planet.

We are not a healthy country.  Relative to other industrial countries, we don’t live long.  Our babies die before they reach their first birthday.  Our pregnant mothers die in child birth.

That’s a lot of fixes.

In fact, the 2,000 pages is a pretty mediocre start.  If either the House or the Senate version survives intact, it still will not cover everybody.  It still will be expensive.  And there isn’t much reason to believe that we will be any healthier as a result.

But it is a start.

And let’s not forget that simple in the form of single payer (HR 676) was taken off the table very early in the process.

Please Click Here to Read the Complete Article by Jim McGee » The Amazing Maze of US Health Care » Logic, facts, socialism, fascism, guns and health care

Hawaiian sugar going, going … – Hawaii Editorials –


By C. Keith Haugen

POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 17, 2009

News that the last sugar cane fields on Kauai were being harvested makes us realize that it won’t be long before we will see the last of what for more than a century was the single most important product of Hawaii.

It marks the beginning of the end of yet another era in our island home.

And it brings back a lot of memories.

Finance officials tightening enforcement – The Maui News

County of Maui Administration Continues Anti-Agriculture Policies Despite Polls Showing Public Supports Agriculture on Maui


POSTED: November 8, 2009

WAILUKU Maui County finance officials are stepping up efforts to collect delinquent taxes, reclassifying some nonfarmers who claim agricultural tax assessments, and taking other steps that could add to the county’s revenues ahead of what’s expected to be a tight year in 2010.

Other efforts by the Real Property Tax Division include pursuing tax foreclosures against property owners who have been delinquent on their taxes for more than three years and a program to verify that people claiming the homeowner classification really live on their properties.

Some of the programs to tighten tax loopholes were started before county finances began heading for a decline. But Finance Director Kalbert Young said projections for a 10 percent slide in revenues next year brought a greater focus on enforcing rules that have been in place all along.

Chasing down delinquent taxpayers won’t close the estimated $45 million budget deficit, but it will be a step in the right direction, he said.

Future pine supply uncertain – The Maui News


KAHULUI Mr. Pineapple – aka Jimmy Hutaff – needs 350 delicious Maui pineapples a day, and when Maui Pine closes down later this year, he doesn’t know where he will get them.

"That’s a good question," he said Wednesday, the day after Maui Land & Pineapple Co. announced it would shut down its money-losing plantation.

It isn’t that there isn’t pineapple in Hawaii. Dole farms about 2,700 acres on Oahu, about the same size operation as Maui Pine has been running.

"It’s not the same," said Hutaff, who sells fresh fruit, as well as lei and jams and jellies on Dairy Road, catching tourists leaving the island on their way to the airport.

Mr. Pineapple offers a "Pineapple Challenge," which Hutaff describes as similar to the "Pepsi Challenge," and Maui Gold fruit usually wins. "Maui Gold seems a little bit better," he said.

Maui Pine, Dole and (long gone) Del Monte developed the sweet Gold variety cooperatively. The same variety was grown by the three companies, but growing conditions and practices do affect the flavor, as does the season of the year. Winter fruits are sweeter, summer more acid.

Maui County’s director of water supply, Jeff Eng, is a graduate food technologist, and one of his earlier jobs was at Maui Pine, where he had to try to even out the sweetness/acidity ratio so that the canned product would have a uniform flavor.

Haku Mo‘olelo – The Maui News


By EDWIN TANJI, City Editor

POSTED: November 6, 2009

Hawaii set the standards for commercial pineapple, but that does not assure the islands’ standing in the world’s marketplace.

As with any other industrial producer, Hawaii’s pineapple industry needed to be competitive. Both in pineapple and sugar, Hawaii’s agronomists developed farming techniques and hybrid strains that improved productivity to keep ahead of operations with lower farming costs in competing countries.

But farming techniques and hybrid cultivars are transferrable; the better the Hawaii agricultural industry got in using technology to improve yields, the better the world got. What Hawaii could not transfer to regions competing with the isle-grown product were its agricultural wage scales and benefits.

MAUI LAND & PINEAPPLE CO INC – Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities



Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities

Item 2.05. Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities

On November 2, 2009, the Board of Directors of Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. (the "Company") approved the recommendations of the Board of Maui Pineapple Company, Ltd. ("MPC"), a wholly owned subsidiary, to immediately cease planting pineapple and to cease all other pineapple agriculture operations by December 31, 2009. The decision was made due to highly competitive fresh pineapple markets on the Mainland USA in which MPC was unable to recover the high cost of growing Hawaiian pineapple. The Company will eliminate approximately 208 positions, including 193 bargaining unit positions. Termination notices have been issued to employees with termination effective December 31, 2009.

Employee severance costs are expected to be approximately $3.1 million and will be primarily accrued in the fourth quarter of 2009. Severance payments for the non-bargaining positions are expected to be paid on the regular payroll schedules throughout most of 2010. The timing of the severance payments for the bargaining unit positions will be addressed with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union ("ILWU"). Additional one-time termination benefits will be negotiated with the ILWU and MPC is not able to estimate the amount of such benefits. Payments of approximately $0.5 million for accrued vacation balances are expected to be paid before December 31, 2009. The Company has not yet determined the effect on its pension and post retirement plans.

The estimated clean up and other costs related to termination of use of the various properties previously used by pineapple operations are estimated to be approximately $1.3 million, which is expected to be incurred primarily in 2010. Non-cash charges in the fourth quarter of 2009 for fixed assets and materials and supplies, net of estimated sales proceeds, are expected to be approximately $12.5 million. MPC is not currently able to estimate the cost of termination of its private grower pineapple supply contract.

In summary, the estimated total cost of this action (for items currently estimable) is expected to be approximately $16.8 million and the total estimated cash outlay for these items are estimated to be approximately $4.9 million. The Company’s Agriculture segment will be reported as discontinued operations in its next periodic filing.

Summary of MAUI LAND & PINEAPPLE CO INC – Yahoo! Finance

Demise of pine brings sadness – The Maui News


WAILUKU – Although the demise of pineapple growing on Maui did not come as a surprise Tuesday, the announcement that Maui Pineapple Co. would stop operating by the end of this year brought sadness and nostalgia about the end of an era.

"This is very sad news for our community, especially for the employees and their families who will be affected," said Mayor Charmaine Tavares, who recalled working in pineapple fields during summer months. "Agricultural fields are part of our heritage and have been a foundation for our island’s history. For nearly a hundred years, the company’s pineapple operations have made our community’s character unique. Working in our pineapple fields has been a source of income for many families, where high school teenagers spent their summers and where multiple members of a family worked in different parts of the operations."

As many as 285 company employees will lose their jobs, Maui Land & Pineapple Co. announced.