For Neil Harl, distinguished professor emeritus in agriculture and economics at Iowa State University, a request to appear at a hearing March 12 in Ankeny on antitrust issues in the seed industry was compelling enough to lure him back from his winter retreat in Hawaii.
“It was tempting to stay away,” Harl said from Hawaii Tuesday after the announcement that he would appear on a panel at the day-long session that will examine competition in the seed industry. “But for years I have urged the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to be more aggressive about competitive issues in agriculture.”
“Now,” Harl continued, “we apparently have an administration that is willing to be more aggressive about these issues and I felt that I couldn’t turn down their request.”
The controversy over competition in the seed business exploded into the open last summer with acrimony and lawsuits between Monsanto and Pioneer Hi-Bred, attracting the attentions of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Justice Department.
I stopped by to see the operations at Hali’imaile Pineapple Co., home of the famous Maui Gold pineapples.
The owner of a Maui financial services loan company filed for personal bankruptcy the same day as his company, claiming nearly $23.8 million in unsecured debt.
Lloyd Y. Kimura’s Chapter 7 filing late last month came on the same day as his company, Maui Industrial Loan & Finance Co., also filed for Chapter 7
Much of the unsecured liability Kimura listed — $16.2 million — is duplicated in Maui Industrial Loan & Finance’s filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
The Wailuku-based firm ran afoul of state regulators last year and was ordered by state Commissioner of Financial Institutions Nick Griffin to cease taking deposits or borrowing money.
Complaint claims Kimura used account access to loot couple
By HARRY EAGAR, Staff Writer
POSTED: February 10, 2010
WAILUKU – Another creditor has filed a million-dollar lawsuit against Wailuku certified public accountant Lloyd Kimura. Unlike previous claims, this one also names his accounting firm, Lloyd Y. Kimura CPA.
Kimura filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago, listing debts of about $23 million. His wholly-owned industrial loan company, Maui Finance, also filed for bankruptcy.
Among the creditors in both bankruptcies were Ronald and Miriam Jacintho, owners of Rojac Trucking, Rojac Construction and Jacro Lowbed Services, who were listed as $1 million creditors of Maui Finance. In their lawsuit filed earlier this month in 2nd Circuit Court, they claim their losses were higher, although the complaint did not disclose the total.
This complaint, filed for the Jacinthos and their Dairy Road Property LLC by attorney Lyle Hosoda, differs from other lawsuits by also alleging that Kimura, as their accountant, had access to their accounts and looted them.
WAILUKU – Certified public accountant Lloyd Kimura is facing a flood of lawsuits for unpaid loans, foreclosures and for claims of mismanagement by buyers of a commercial condominium he developed and managed in the Wailuku Industrial Park.
Neither Kimura nor his lawyer, Phil Lowenthal, returned phone messages seeking comment.
In November, the state Division of Financial Institutions ordered Maui Industrial (also known as Maui Finance, or MILFCO) to stop taking deposits. Kimura has owned and managed Maui Finance since 1969.
Even the wettest spot in Hawai’i — Mount Wai’ale’ale — wasn’t so wet last year as the state experienced below-normal rainfall in all but a few spots.
Rain gauges at the Kaua’i mountaintop measured 308 inches in 2009, 73 percent of normal levels, and a scant 3 inches in December, only 7 percent of normal. It was Mount Wai’ale’ale’s third-driest December on record, according to National Weather Service data.
In Honolulu, only the O’ahu Forest National Wildlife Refuge experienced above-normal rainfall in 2009 — 214 inches. Totals for most sites in central and west O’ahu were less than 50 percent of their annual averages.
The December rainfall numbers were even worse, with most O’ahu gauges measuring a third or less of normal rainfall averages, a trend that has continued into the new year.
The U.S. Drought Monitor reports that 99 percent of the state is experiencing "abnormally dry" or worse conditions, compared with 37 percent at the same time last year. More than a third of the state is suffering "severe to exceptional" drought.
On Maui and the Big Island, the U.S. Department of Agriculture last month designated the two counties as natural disaster areas so farmers could seek relief for crop losses.
A new, smaller company picks up where Maui Land & Pineapple Co. left off
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 03, 2010
About 65 workers arrived at dawn yesterday for the first day of work at a new though much smaller pineapple company that will allow fresh pineapple farming and packing to continue on Maui.
Haliimaile Pineapple Co. began operations yesterday on 1,000 acres of leased land with some equipment purchased from Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
All workers were former employees of Maui Pineapple, which shut down last week after 97 years in operation. The company laid off about 285 employees and transferred 130 to partner companies.
Yesterday, workers picked more than 41 tons of pineapples in five hours.
"This morning was a real chicken-skin moment," said Rudy Balala, Haliimaile vice president, who worked at Maui Land & Pineapple for more than 30 years. He began talking with Darren Strand, a former Maui Pineapple operating director, about running their own operation a year ago.
"Our thing is trying to run as lean as possible and have everybody involved in the operations," Balala said. "We want everybody to be cross-trained."
Because volume is much lower than Maui Pineapple’s, the company needs a small crew that can do everything, he said.
Some workers who haven’t picked pineapple for more than 10 years were picking pineapple yesterday, Balala said.
"Everybody wants this company to succeed and they’re really showing it, especially on the first day," he said.
Tomorrow, all employees will go to Kahului to train and pack pineapples.
"There were a lot of smiles, a lot of happy people," said Doug Schenk, a shareholder in the new company. "A lot of people raring to go."
by: Derek Paiva
Fresh, whole Maui-grown pineapple will not be a relic of Hawaii’s past after all.
A consortium of Maui-based investors on Thursday announced the formation of Haliimaile Pineapple Co. Ltd., a new company that would immediately continue farming and harvesting the sweet and juicy fruit on 1,000 acres of Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. land.
Haliimaile is slated to begin operations today.
On Nov. 3, Maui Land & Pineapple announced that it would shut down all operations at its Maui Pineapple Co. subsidiary at the end of 2009 after 97 years of growing the signature Hawaii fruit on the island. The largest grower of pineapple left in Hawaii, Maui Pineapple Co. sold fresh whole pineapple in stores and online under its Maui Gold brand. Maui Pineapple’s last harvest was completed on Dec. 23.
By Alan Yonan Jr. Advertiser Staff Writer
A group of former Maui Pineapple Co. executives have teamed up with the owner of Ulupalakua Ranch to take over some of the pineapple operations of Maui Land & Pineapple Co.
ML&P had announced in November that it would close its pineapple division after nearly 100 years of plantation-scale farming on the Valley Isle. The company last week harvested its final pineapple crop.
The new company, Haliimaile Pineapple Co., will continue to grow and market fresh pineapple under the established Maui Gold Brand, although on a smaller scale. The company said yesterday it will hire back 65 former Maui Pineapple Co. workers and farm about 1,000 of the 3,000 acres that were previously cultivated.
"We’re thrilled to be doing this," said Doug Schenk, former Maui Pineapple Co. president and member of the new management team.
"Maui Gold pineapple is a variety that no one else has. We knew that there was huge demand for it," said Schenk, who left Maui Pineapple in 2001.
Haliimaile has purchased and licensed key assets, and leased farm land, equipment and buildings from ML&P.
The other principals in the new company are Pardee Erdman, owner of Ulupalakua Ranch; former vice presidents of Maui Pineapple Doug MacCluer and Ed Chenchin; and the current operating directors for Maui Pineapple, Darren Strand and Rudy Balala.
Erdman will be the majority owner. The group brings more than 150 years of combined expertise in growing and packing premium pineapple on Maui, the company said.
"We are proud to continue the 100-year legacy of pineapple on Maui," said Strand, president and CEO of the new company.
"Haliimaile Pineapple Co. brings new hope for a new year by immediately saving 65 agricultural jobs with an expectation of adding more in the future."