A judge has ruled in favor of a lender in a foreclosure suit on a former Pacific Northwest logger who attempted to turn the former Haina sugar mill in Honokaa into a sawmill.
Hilo Circuit Judge Glenn Hara entered judgment Dec. 8 against Haina Properties LLC and Robert J. Marr, known as “Barefoot Bob.” The ruling clears the way for a liquidation sale of the mill property.
Haina Mill Mortgage Lender LLC, a Delaware limited liability -company, filed the foreclosure suit in June 2009, claiming that Haina Properties and Marr — manager of Haina Properties and owner of the 49-acre mill property — defaulted on a $4.785 million loan taken out Sept. 27, 2007, plus an additional $379,000 borrowed May 2, 2008.
All told, Marr owes almost $6.2 million to Haina Mill Mortgage Lender, counting principal, interest, fees, taxes and expenses.
Also named as defendants in the suit were Kamehameha Schools and Hamakua Land Partnership LLP as owner and lessee, respectively, of Standard Oil Road, the access road to the mill. In addition, the county was named for property tax purposes.
Marr bought the 49-acre mill property for $3.3 million in October 2007. He told area residents that the mill — which closed as a sugar mill in 1994 — would provide 110 jobs paying $12 to $25 an hour, and would run in an environmentally-responsible manner. Continue reading
The rain came down. The price went up, and Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. finished the year with a much improved crop.
The final raw sugar shipment was loaded at Kahului Harbor’s Pier One on Wednesday and Thursday.
The harvest was just shy of 172,000 tons, much better than the 127,000 tons in 2009, but well short of the 200,000 tons the plantation can make in a good year.
In a telephone interview from New York on Thursday, HC&S General Manager Chris Benjamin said that although there is still “a ways to go,” the improved crop and better world prices take the immediate pressure off the plantation.
A year ago, after experiencing heavy losses attributed to a long drought, the directors of Alexander & Baldwin took a hard look at HC&S. The 37,000-acre plantation was the origin of the A&B conglomerate, but today it accounts for only about 7 percent of revenues.
The board approved continuation of the business only until the end of this year, pending improved results.
Financial results won’t be published until next year, but Benjamin said he believes that the board is already satisfied that the operation is on the right track.
At this week’s price of nearly 40 cents per pound of raw sugar (in New York), the crop would be worth more than $130 million, not counting molasses and electricity byproduct revenue, plus the premium for the part of the crop sold as specialty sugars. Continue reading
Sugar for March delivery closed at 28.45 cents per pound on Monday — a little off its above-30-cent peak struck last month, but still double its May 2010 low.
And it looks like sugar may have higher to climb.
Global supplies of sugar are projected to lag worldwide demand this year for the third year running. According to a new report by Czarnikow Group, a London-based sugar and biofuel broker, the supply/demand deficit could run as high as 2.8 million metric tons from September 2010 to September 2011.
Of course, when you consider that total supply for 2010/11 is expected to rise to 168.4 million tons from last year’s 157.4 million, that deficit doesn’t seem like a huge gap. And generally, if sugar becomes too expensive to use, end-consumers can just switch to cheaper sweeteners, like corn-based syrups.
Still, one can make the argument that sugar should be higher, especially considering that growing consumption is expected in emerging markets like China, where we’ve yet to hit the limit of their commodity appetite. Plus, over the past few years, we’ve seen drawdowns in world inventories of the sweet stuff, a fact that helped boost prices up to ever-higher highs in 2007/08 and 2008/09.
The supply shortfall springs from poor growing weather we saw earlier this year. Remember that Brazilian bumper crop we talked about back in August? Yeah, not so much. Brazil, the world’s largest producer of sugar, saw sugar cane production declines from a hotter summer than usual, while similar drought conditions stunted Russian beet production and South African cane yields. Meanwhile, in Indonesia and Australia, the sugar cane harvest withered under a deluge of super-wet weather. Continue reading
Early on Saturday, October 23 a blue helicopter with large spray wings attached sprayed the edges of the canefields in Pa‘ia. There were strong and variable winds and the spray blew directly into many nearby residences. Pa‘ia houses emptied as families stepped outside to gawk in awe as the flying sprayer made pass after pass along the canefields at the edge of town.
Moon Over Haleakala inquired of HC&S as to what was being sprayed so close to homes, children and old people – and why?
A&B spokesperson Meredith Ching was kind enough to find out what was going on and to send the Moon a detailed account of the spraying that day. Her full account and a sample of scientific controversy surrounding 2,4-D is on page 14. Our photo gallery of the spraying, and the links to internet sites describing the ongoing controversy surrounding health risks and the approvals for such wide use of 2,4-D are available at our website, mauimoonnews.com.
Below is Moon Over Haleakala staffer Madeline Ziecker’s personal account of events that Saturday morning. Continue reading
By A&B spokesperson Meredith Ching
This is my understanding of the situation you have inquired about. On October 23, HC&S conducted an aerial application of an herbicide, Clean Amine, on its Field 212, located along Hana Highway, just west of Paia town. We were attempting to eliminate a noxious weed, castor bean, from the field, as it shades out the crop and depresses sugar yields. Aerial herbicide application was required because the 16-month old cane is too dense to allow access for ground spraying, and the weed height exceeded the canopy of the cane.
The active ingredient in Clean Amine is 2,4-D, which is among the most widely used weed control chemicals in the world and is present in a number of substances labeled for residential use. For more information about 2,4-D, refer to http://www.24d.org. This product is labeled for aerial application, and applications were made in compliance with the pesticide label. The mix used on Field 212 was a very diluted formulation, consisting of about 2% of 2, 4-D by weight.
We fully appreciate that the helicopter’s presence was likely startling for the residents. By design, they fly very low when applying the agricultural substances, for the very reason of minimizing drift and applying the substances most directly on the plants. Further, with this type of application of Clean Amine, the substance is only released when directly over the targeted weeds (which are very visible above the cane).
Further, when HC&S undertakes aerial applications on its fields, we generally do so in the morning when wind speeds are lower and more predictable; gusts and variable winds typically occur later in the day. Wind characteristics are an important factor for aerial applications, and one that HC&S carefully considers prior to any application. A spotter goes along on all aerial applications, monitors and records wind speeds and directions, and watches for any visual signs of drift so that prompt action can be taken to address it. Continue reading
Mike Atherton’s employees call him “Coach” for good reason. Since he bought Maui Tropical Plantation in 2006, the affable entrepreneur has been overseeing a comprehensive game plan to re-energize the 26-year-old attraction.
“We’ve painted the buildings, pruned the trees, spruced up the landscaping, basically given the grounds a complete makeover,” Atherton said. “I’m an outdoors, hands-on guy; I get as dirty as my gardeners do, and I love it!”
A native of Stockton, Calif., Atherton comes from a distinguished family. His maternal great-grandfather was Benjamin Holt, founder of the Caterpillar equipment company. His paternal great-grandfather, the Rev. Isaac Warren Atherton, was a missionary in the Hawi-North Kohala area of the Big Island from 1878 to 1880. His paternal grandfather, Warren Atherton, was an attorney, judge and politician who’s best known for authoring the G.I. Bill.
Atherton and two partners have owned and operated Jesus Mountain Coffee Co. in Nicaragua for 30 years. They acquired the Coffees of Hawaii plantation on Molokai in 2002, and Atherton came to Maui three years later, seeking land to start a similar venture there.
“At the time, C. Brewer & Co. was shutting down and selling all its assets, including Maui Tropical Plantation,” Atherton recalled. “The plantation was an agri-tourism attraction that had been open since 1984, so it had a lot of established growth. It also had a big parking lot, a store, a restaurant, dedicated employees and a good reputation. It was perfect; it just needed some tender loving care.”
Armed with enthusiasm and fresh ideas, Atherton and his hui bought the 60-acre plantation and the surrounding 1,940 acres. Continue reading
Many Hawaii farmers and ranchers say the cost of complying with proposed safety rules regulating dams and reservoirs will be more than they can afford and that they’ll be turning to the state Legislature for financial aid.
“We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Alan Gottlieb, a past president of the Hawaii Cattlemen’s Council.
The proposed administrative rules were approved by the state land board Monday and forwarded to Gov. Linda Lingle. The governor’s approval is required before they take effect.
The rules would regulate 138 reservoirs in Hawaii that have the capacity to hold 5 million gallons or more.
State officials said the increases in fees would pay for costs of enforcing the new safety rules.
Critics say that besides the high cost, the regulations would discourage the operation of existing reservoirs, many of which operate on narrow profit margins.
One of the largest regulated reservoirs is at the city’s Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe.
The reservoir, built as a flood-control project, usually stores 84.7 million gallons but has a capacity of 1.4 billion gallons, according to the state.
Farmers and ranchers say that while they support safety regulations in light of the 2006 Koloko Reservoir dam break on Kauai that killed seven people, the proposed rules place an unreasonable burden on businesses. Continue reading
Editor’s note: On Dec. 3, the Kaua‘i Museum celebrates its 50th anniversary. Museum leaders have chosen 50 stories from exhibits, collections and the archives of the museum to share with the public. One story will run daily through Dec. 3.
LIHU‘E — For researching plantation history, the Gilmore Sugar Manuals, an annual report of U.S. sugar cane producers is invaluable. Published under various names, they reported statistics and interesting work done on individual plantations during the year. This is some interesting information collected from manuals from 1936 and 1948 when many plantations had begun to phase out rail.
Kilauea Sugar Plantation Co.
In 1936 the rail system was 11 miles of 24-gauge track, two 16-ton oil-fired Baldwin locomotives and 260 three-ton flare-door type cane cars which were discontinued in 1948.
Grove Farm Company, Ltd.
In 1936, harvesting transportation consisted of 13.5 miles of permanent 30-inch track and four miles of portable track. The cane cars used in harvesting belong to Lihu‘e Plantation where the cane was processed. In 1948, transportation equipment consisted of rail cars from Lihu‘e Plantation with trucks used to bring in harvested cane from isolated steep fields. Continue reading
Funny how things work out. Our new mayor wants to take over plantation water systems (although when he had a chance four years ago, he backed down).
A couple of years ago, a combination of drought and low prices had HC&S on the ropes, and the board at A&B was beginning to wonder whether sugar was a business they wanted to be in. At best, it accounts for only about 7% of revenue. HC&S is such a small part of A&B that it cannot ever contribute largely to profits, although it can — and recently has — hammered them down.
Since A&B answers to Wall Street, which does not give a damn about Upcountry water meters, low sugar prices open the way to a county takeover of EMI. This would be a disaster, but, like I say, funny how things work out.
Arakawa’s in, sugar prices are up, A&B will presumably stick with HC&S for a while longer, the valley will be green and Kihei will not have to live through endless dust storms. Continue reading
Alexander & Baldwin Inc. tripled its third-quarter profit with greatly improved performances from its ocean transportation service in China and sugar business on Maui.
The Honolulu-based company reported today earning a net profit of $25.7 million, or 62 cents per diluted share of stock, in the July-September period, up from $8.5 million, or 21 cents per share, in the same period last year.
The big gain was largely from A&B’s ocean cargo subsidiary, Matson Navigation Co., which posted a 67 percent rise in operating profit to $40.4 million in the third quarter from $24.2 million a year earlier.
A&B said Matson’s performance was principally driven by higher volume and yields in its China service, which it expanded in mid-September.
Another contributor to the rise in profit was A&B’s Maui sugar subsidiary, Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co., which benefited from higher sugar prices and production.
HC&S, along with Kauai Coffee Co., delivered an $800,000 operating profit for A&B, which represents a $13 million improvement from a $13.8 million operating loss in the 2009 third quarter.
Operating profits from real estate leasing and sales were lower for A&B.