ML&P reports doubts about its ability to continue

KAPALUA – Financial challenges facing Maui Land & Pineapple Co. are raising a “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the company reports in its latest filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.

Among a number of disclosures in the filing, a group of lenders has declared that a $280.5 million loan for the Kapalua Bay Holdings’ construction of the The Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, Kapalua Bay is in default. ML&P has invested more than $50 million in cash and $25 million in land for the development project and has 51 percent ownership in the Bay Holdings company.

“The company’s cash outlook for the next 12 months and its ability to continue to meet its financial covenants is highly dependent on selling certain real estate assets in a difficult market,” the filing says. “If the company is unable to meet its financial covenants resulting in the borrowings becoming immediately due, the company would not have sufficient liquidity to repay such outstanding borrowings.”

While the company’s future appears ominous in its SEC filing, Tim Esaki, the company’s financial officer, said Friday that company officials “remain optimistic.”

Farmers say tax changes pose threat

MAKAWAO – Upcountry farmers said this week that they have concerns about proposals to change the way agricultural lands are taxed.

A number of landowners said any changes that increased what they pay in property taxes could put small farmers and ranchers out of business. Others questioned how the proposal would affect people who stop farming because of old age.

“I’m retired, and I’m worried about how we’re going to afford this,” said former persimmon farmer Blanche Ito. “All of a sudden, we’re faced with this new bill that might increase my taxes, and that concerns me.”

Ito was among around 40 residents who attended a special meeting of the Maui County Council Budget and Finance Committee on Monday night at Kalama Intermediate School in Makawao.

The committee is considering legislation that would tax the land under a home on an agricultural lot in the same way as a regular residential property.

Currently, an agricultural house lot is taxed as a percentage of the larger parcel’s total value, often resulting in a significantly lower amount than what a similar lot in a residential neighborhood would be worth. Council members have said the measure would be a first step in bringing more equity to the property tax system.

But several testifiers questioned that idea.

Maui County Farm Bureau Presents Maui Ag Day

The Maui County Farm Bureau (MCFB) will present the second annual Maui Ag Day with a focus on “Understanding Food Safety Certification” on Friday, Aug. 26, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company located at 872 Hāli‘imaile Road.

The trade show, panel discussion, tour and parking are free and open to the general public.

The day opens with the trade show and continental breakfast. At 9 a.m., the event will feature a Food Safety Certification Panel Presentation by three Maui farmers who have completed the Food Safety Certification process: Heidi Watanabe of Watanabe Processing, Geoff Haines of Pacific Produce and Brian Igersheim of Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Co. At 10:30 a.m., tour of Hāli‘imaile Pineapple Company facilities and pineapple fields. A Grown on Maui lunch will be provided to MCFB members at 11:45 a.m.; non-members may purchase lunch.

Tougher penalties, product tracking considered to curb agriculture crimes

Fighting farm theft and vandalism is getting a closer look by state officials in the wake of high-profile cases.

Tougher penalties, rural neighborhood watch and product tracking from field to vendor are among the ideas to combat a growing and troublesome trend.

Whether it’s theft of produce or vandalism on a massive scale, agricultural crime is becoming center on the state’s radar.

“It was the vandalism that really led to all of the interest, because we’ve have three incidents that we know of, so it’s kind of building,” said State Agriculture Director Russell Kokubun.

The crimes range from brazen papaya crop destruction on Oahu and the Big Island, to pineapple theft on Maui.

“We’ve had probably one or two pickups a day stolen out of 1350 acres, that’s a lot,” says Doug MacCluer of Haliimaile Pineapple Co.

Maui Ag Day to focus on food safety certification

HALIIMAILE – The Maui County Farm Bureau will host the second annual Maui Ag Day with a focus on understanding food safety certification from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Haliimaile Pineapple Co.

The trade show, a panel presentation on food safety, tour and parking are free. That event will be held at 872 Haliimaile Road.

A “Grown on Maui” lunch is free for Maui County Farm Bureau members. There is a fee for nonmembers.

Those planning to attend should RSVP by Wednesday. For more information, send email to warrenmcfb@hot mail.com or call 243-2290.

Maui Ag Day to focus on food safety certification – Mauinews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor’s Information – The Maui News

Pine venture afloat after first year

A year ago, Haliimaile Pineapple Co., the employee-driven farm picked up the pieces of the failed Maui Pineapple Co., and reopened with a new name and renewed commitment to grow pineapple.

Vice President Rudy Balala confirmed, “We just finished the one year. We had some up-and-down times, but overall we’ve had good support from Hawaii customers. And our Mainland customers too, they have hung with us.”

The company employs 83 people.

Friday was an extra day for picking to accommodate a field that had ripened earlier than expected.

Pine venture afloat after first year – Mauinews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Visitor’s Information – The Maui News

Haliimaile Pineapple topic of Rotary talk

KIHEI – Doug Schenk, a director of the Haliimaile Pineapple Co., will speak at the 7:30 a.m. meeting Wednesday of the Rotary Club of Kihei Sunrise.

He will discuss the “rebirth” of pineapple on the Valley Isle. As a locally owned and operated successor to Maui Pineapple Co., Haliimaile Pineapple Co. is trying to fill the void left by Maui Pine, which closed in 2009, a release said.

The breakfast meeting convenes at the Five Palms restaurant at the Mana Kai Maui Resort in Kihei. The cost of breakfast is $17. The meeting is open to the public.

For more information, call President Ed Corbett at 264-3468 or see www.kiheirotary.org.

Scope of isle farm labor abuse case widens

The exploitation of impoverished Thai farm workers by a Los Angeles-based labor contractor went on for longer than federal prosecutors had previously disclosed and involved more workers and more growers in more states, including Del Monte and Aloun Farms on Oahu and a macadamia nut farm on the Big Island, according to a federal indictment unsealed yesterday.

The indictment, an update to one returned last September, adds more charges of forced labor and related offenses against labor contractor Global Horizons Manpower Inc. owner Mordechai Yosef Orian and five alleged co-conspirators, officers in his company and recruiters in Thailand. The new indictment adds two more Global Horizons officers as defendants.

Aloun Farms owners Alec and Mike Sou are facing separate federal forced-labor charges for actions unrelated to Global Horizons.

Last September’s indictment said Orian, 45, an Israeli national, and his co-conspirators exploited about 400 Thai workers in forced-labor conditions from May 2004 to September 2005. It named only one property where the workers were allegedly confined and forced to work, the valley isle’s now-defunct Maui Pineapple Farm.

Island Kitsch: Pineapple Fields Forever

What would Hawaii be without pineapple?

Recently I picked up a copy of Hawai’i Magazine while I had some time to kill. It had an article about the Hali’imaile Pineapple Company, Ltd. saving pineapple production on the island of Maui. For most people, this would be of passing interest. For me, it was like Christmas all over again.

I’ve worked the pineapple fields of Maui Land and Pine. I still remember where I was when I learned that the company was ceasing its pineapple operation. It was a very sad day. Hawaii and pineapple are forever associated with a really special time in my life. As I get older, I recognize that while some things may not be 100% perfect for the bottom line, they are worth preserving to maintain our connection to our roots. Hawaii pineapple is one of those worthy endeavors.