Coffee bill in line to receive the ax

HONOLULU – Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie said Monday that he plans to veto a bill that would remove mandatory certification for Hawaii-grown coffee, a measure Kona coffee farmers said would be disastrous for the industry’s integrity and reputation.

Abercrombie listed the bill as one of 19 he is considering vetoing from the 2012 legislative session. Some of the bills are still under consideration, he said.

Kona coffee farmers who were against the certification repeal from the start welcomed the veto. The certification helps them fight against lesser-quality products, they said.

“The implications of this measure are problematic,” Abercrombie said. “Further discussion is needed to ensure that the Hawaii brand will not be undermined.”

Parker Ranch, Ulupono team up for beef

Parker Ranch and local investment firm Ulupono Initiative will jointly fund research into large-scale grass-fed beef production on Hawaii island.

The trials will involve 200 head of cattle on 300 acres from September through May of 2013.

“This local product strategy should ensure that we have the capacity to produce high quality and consistent market cattle in Hawaii at a competitive price,” said Dutch Kuyper, CEO of Parker Ranch, in a statement.

“It is an honor for us to partner with Parker Ranch … to support the pre-commercialization trials of large-scale grass-fed beef,” said Kyle Datta, Ulupono general partner.

Parker Ranch, Ulupono team up for beef – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

New law prohibits having or releasing feral deer in Hawaii

A bill prohibiting having feral deer or releasing them into the wild was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Senate Bill 3001 was passed by the Legislature as a measure to prevent the spread of Axis deer.

The deer have thrived on Maui, causing an estimated $1 million in damage to farms, ranches and tourist resorts. There has been environmental damage on Molokai and Lanai as well. And recently on Hawaii island, they have caused damage to ranch grasslands, farm crops and plants that are vital to maintain watershed areas.

The new law aims to stop the deliberate spread of wild or feral deer and establishes penalties for the intentional possession or interisland transportation or release of wild or feral deer.

“It is imperative that Hawai’i’s environment and local industry be protected from the devastating effects that non-native species can pose to the health of our local economy and ecosystem, ” said Sen. Gilbert Kahele (District 2- Ka’u, Puna, Hilo), who introduced the measure. “This measure establishes the regulations needed to prevent the unwanted spread of Axis Deer so that our environment and businesses can continue to grow and prosper,” he said in a press release.

New law prohibits having or releasing feral deer in Hawaii – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Abercrombie: Week to focus on declining pollinator populations

HONOLULU (AP) – Gov. Neil Abercrombie has declared it Hawaii Pollinator Week.

The governor says this week is about raising awareness of declining pollinator populations. It coincides with National Pollinator Week. Bees are critical pollinators of many Hawaii crops, and the loss of beehives is a threat to the agricultural economy.

Beetles that pose a serious threat to honeybees have recently been found on Kauai. They were first detected on the Big Island in April 2010 and have since spread to Oahu, Maui and Molokai.

The small hive beetle is native to sub-Saharan Africa and feeds on honey, pollen, wax, honeybee eggs and larvae.

At Monday’s proclamation ceremony for Pollinator Week, Abercrombie also signed into law a bill appropriating $30,000 to the University of Hawaii for statewide beehive research.

Week to focus on declining pollinator populations – |
News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor’s Information – The Maui News

Reining in the rumors about EPA ‘drones’

By David A. Fahrenthold, Published: June 16

It was a blood-boiler of a story, a menacing tale of government gone too far: The Environmental Protection Agency was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial “drones” used to kill terrorists overseas.

This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four congressmen. The only trouble is, it isn’t true.

It was never true. The EPA isn’t using drone aircraft — in the Midwest or anywhere else.

The hubbub over nonexistent drones provides a look at something hard to capture in American politics: the vibrant, almost viral, life cycle of a falsehood. This one seems to have been born less than three weeks ago, in tweets and blog posts that twisted the details of a real news story about EPA inspectors flying in small planes.

Then the falsehood spread, via conservative Web sites, mentions on Fox News Channel and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and the endless replication of Twitter. In its mature stage, the idea was sustained by a digital echo chamber. Congressmen repeated false reports — and then new reports appeared, based on the congressmen.

“We’ve never thought that. We’ve never said that. I don’t know where it came from,”

‘No Trespassing’ signs erected at site of Haleiwa Farmers Market

The Haleiwa Farmers Market will no longer be allowed to operate along the Haleiwa bypass road after state officials put up “no trespassing” signs, Gov. Neil Abercrombie announced today.

Until Sunday, the market had been operating for three years on a triangular area at the junction of Kamehameha Highway and Joseph P. Leong Highway where vending is prohibited under state law, Abercrombie’s office said.

Several locations including the Waialua Sugar Mill, city parks and local schools were rejected by farmers market organizers as alternate locations over the last several months, Abercrombie said.

He pointed out that two farmers markets continue to operate on Saturdays in nearby Waialua and Sunset and support the sale and promotion of locally grown food.

“Between open markets and farmers markets all across the state we’re able to come to an accommodation, but I think there’s been some difficulty in understanding that this was a business proposition for a couple of people out there and we just were not able to come to a conclusion for them,” Abercrombie said. “So I think the farmers will be working with (City Council chairman) Ernie Martin and the Farm Bureau and others to find an appropriate venue. To the degree other vendors can be accommodated, I’m sure they will be

Bill allowing agriculturally based businesses in ag districts is signed

Agriculturally based businesses would be allowed in agriculture districts under a measure signed into law today by Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

Permissible commercial activity includes the preparation and sale of certain food grown by the owner or operator of a retail food establishment and the sale of logo items related to a producer’s agricultural operation.

“The ability to be able to take what you grow and turn it into products and to be able to sell it is really what this is all about — to get people used to not just the brand names but the fact that they’re able to support agriculture as a result,” Abercrombie said.

Senate Bill 2375 was among 16 bills signed into law Friday by the governor, who must notify the Legislature by June 25 of what bills he may veto.

One of those measures highlighted by Abercrombie was SB 2646, which is intended to promote diversified agriculture by exempting certain nonresidential agricultural buildings n commercial farms from county building permit requirements.

Bill allowing agriculturally based businesses in ag districts is signed – Hawaii News – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Bring a plate – how Australia should be feeding Asia

Food manufacturers must target the region’s booming middle classes with innovative processed products, writes Paddy Manning.

You get what you focus on,” said Kraft Food’s Australasian chief, Rebecca Dee-Bradbury, this week, both admonishing and urging her industry peers to seize the opportunity at our doorstep: to be much more than Asia’s paddock when it comes to food supply.

After touring food hubs in Shanghai and Singapore last month, Dee-Bradbury told a business gathering this week, ”it may shock you to understand that Australia is not seen as a high-value food innovator. It is seen as a critical supplier of food commodities.

”The impact on Australia’s largest manufacturing sector, if we become a farm gate supplier, is unthinkable.’

From meat, to dairy, to wine, Australia’s food manufacturing exports are worth up to $17 billion a year, bigger than education and tourism. But the Kraft boss’s warning underlines Australia’s emerging role in the region. The mining boom has already seen Australia become Asia’s quarry – digging dirt out of the ground to fuel China’s future.

Now Australia risks becoming Asia’s farm rather than an exporter and manufacturer of quality foods from trusted quality produce.

Contract farming ‘exploitative’

Contract farming has put farmers at a disadvantage as they have to shoulder all the burdens of investment and losses, with lucrative profits going into the pockets of companies engaged in the system, a seminar has been told.

Paisit Panitkul, a law lecturer at Chiang Mai University, said his study showed that contract farming was unfair to farmers as produce was supplied directly to giant agribusiness firms.

This resulted in companies taking advantage of farmers, he told the seminar at Chulalongkorn University yesterday.

Contract farming is a forward agreement between farmers and processing or marketing firms to supply agricultural products, frequently at predetermined and seasonally optimal prices.

Mr Paisit said many small farmers had entered into contract farming in the hope of getting a stable income.

“Contract farming represents a form of disguised exploitation, with companies taking all benefits from selling seeds, livestock, animal feed and farm equipment. Everything generates huge profits for agribusiness firms,” Mr Paisit said.

Food security meant farmers faced exploitation by conditions set by companies, he added. He urged all agencies concerned, including consumers, to push for fair farming contracts.