HONOLULU – Kona coffee farmers are asking the governor to veto a bill that removes mandatory certification requirements for Hawaii-grown coffee.
The bill was one of dozens that cleared the full House and the Senate on Tuesday, two days before the end of the 2012 legislative session.
On Thursday, lawmakers will vote on the remaining measures, including the $11.2 billion state budget bill and related fiscal measures.
Kona coffee farmers have opposed House Bill 280 throughout the session. The measure addresses a staffing shortage at the state Department of Agriculture, which has had to eliminate all but one coffee inspector position in West Hawaii Island.
Currently, coffee labeled as Kona-grown must be inspected and certified by the state. The inspectors verify that blends labeled as Kona actually contain at least 10 percent Kona-grown coffee.
If the bill becomes a law, however, inspections will become voluntary and growers will provide their own documentation of the coffee’s origin.
Rep. Cynthia Thielen, R-Kaneohe-Kailua, tried unsuccessfully to get the bill amended on the floor. Her proposal would have inserted language from a food sustainability measure that failed to pass out of committee.