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.”
More than 1,500 pineapple growers on Friday gathered in front of the Farmer Market Centre on Petchakasem highway at Ban Auo Noi in Prachuab Khiri Khan to wait for outcome of the meeting of National Pineapple Committee.
The pineapple farmers came from Prachuab Khiri Khan, Rayong, Chonburi, Uthai Thani, Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi. They brought with them about 34 pickup trucks fully loaded with pineapples.
The pineapple farmers said the rally today was aimed at calling for the government to help settle the problem of low pineapple price, now only three baht a kilogramme.
The farmers said they would not rally at the provincial city hall but will gather at the centre until the outcome of the pineapple meeting at the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives is known.
If the meeting agreed to approve a budget of 800 million baht to buy 100,000 tonnes of pineapple out of the market to reduce supply of the fruit as proposed, the pineapple farmers would peacefully disperse. Otherwise, the rally will be intensified and the Petchkasem highway, a main route to the South, could be blocked, said the farmers.
Prachuab Khiri Khan governor Veera Sriwattanatrakul told the framers not to block the highway as it would bring about hardship to commuters.
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.
Tropical Gardening — Vitamins abound
Sunday, January 15 2:10 am
Lucky we live Hawaii, but we can learn a lot from gardeners on other tropical islands. Right now, we are in the Dominican Republic working with farmers on a project sponsored by the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas, or FAVACA.
Voltaire Moise, who is from Haiti, is working on the uses of edible crops while I work on some of the production problems. Like the folks in the Dominican Republic, we in Hawaii can grow almost anything. We have many climates, depending on elevation and whether you are on the rain-swept eastern side or the dryer leeward part of the island.
Below 2,000 feet we grow the tropicals and above we can grow the warm, temperate and even cool season crops. Tropical fruits are the favorite for most, since they are varied and unusual.
Many of these fruits are high in vitamins, minerals and energy.
So instead of popping vitamin pills every day, we should consider fruit. Those vitamin pills on your shelf, besides being pretty expensive items, are not nearly as palatable and eye appealing as fresh fruit — especially when it is grown in your own backyard.
WAILUKU – Maui County Council members heard from farmers this week asking them to take more time before making changes to the county’s agricultural property tax laws.
The council Budget and Finance Committee met Tuesday to discuss a proposal that would carve out the land under a home on agricultural property and require it to be taxed in the same way as any other residential lot. Council members supporting the measure said it would make the property tax system more fair and equal for all residents.
But many farmers said they were concerned about any changes that would likely increase what they pay in property taxes.
“We have a tax equity issue,” said Darren Strand, president of the Maui County Farm Bureau and Haliimaile Pineapple Co. “As a business operator, that’s not my issue. My issue is, any increase in taxes is going to hurt my bottom line.”
He echoed others in calling for more review.
“There just hasn’t been enough time for us to process (this) and really get the information out,” he said.
Council members agreed, deciding to defer discussion of the issue and schedule nighttime meetings in the community before taking action.
“There’s a lot of concern out there, and I’d like to take a little extra time to have people get their questions answered,” said Council Member Mike White, who introduced the legislation and has spearheaded discussion of disparities in the agricultural property tax system.
Under White’s proposal, the county would tax the “house lot” on agricultural property based on its fair market value, as if it were a stand-alone lot.
That would be a significant change from the current system, in which the county estimates the value of the house lot only as a percentage of what the entire property is worth.
The change would likely increase property taxes on a number of agricultural house lots, which under the current system often pay less in taxes than lots of the same size in residential areas.
“It gets back to a fairness issue,” White said.
Dig farm-fresh foods? Be part of growing interest on Maui
Maui County Farm Bureau’s on a mission to honor its future leaders, cook up tours, demos and contests for Agricultural Month in September
September 25, 2011
By CARLA TRACY – Dining Editor (email@example.com) , The Maui News
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Mauians love his ripe, juicy Kula strawberries and his sweet, round Kula onions. He’s even launching a pumpkin patch in October, complete with a corn maze or labyrinth, for those in the Halloween state of mind.
But Chauncey Monden, 38, of Kula Country Farms, is not your typical farmer.
In fact, the average age of a Maui farmer is 62.5. Before they age more and retire, we’d better get the younger generation excited about that field, or Maui’s farming lifestyle may just go the way of the dinosaurs.
“It’s a hard life,” says Monden. “With weather, bugs, water bills, taxes, rocky soil, sloped ground, farmlands being sold off, houses encroaching, dust and competition with Mexican and other farmers, it’s tough.”
“There’s a lot of regulations that are difficult to comply with, then you have to market yourself. I don’t have all of the answers. I just know, you’ve got to love it.”
Throughout September Maui farmers, ranchers, local food producers and friends of agriculture are teaming up to celebrate local food. We do this because we believe that agriculture matters on Maui.
Grown on Maui Chef Demos at Whole Foods Market
Maui every Monday in September, 5:30-6:30 p.m.
September 6 Tylun Pang, The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui
September 12 Garret Fujieda, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa
September 19 Caroline Schaub O’o Farm
September 26 Ryan Luckey, Pineapple Grill at Kapalua Resort
Grown on Maui Flower Demos at Whole Foods Market
Maui every Tuesday in September, 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
September 6 Sue Cuffe, Hana Fantasy Flowers
September 12 Carver Wilson, Maui Floral
September 19 Dan Judson, Orchids of Olinda
September 26 Maui Flower Growers Association
Wednesdays From 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. the Weed & Pot Club activities at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens will focus on Hawaiian food plant propagation and maintenance.
Monday-Friday Maui Pineapple Tour presents pineapple heritage tours at the newly established Hali’imaile Pineapple Plantation.
Tour Da Food: Experience the dishes that characterize Maui cuisine, learn about the traditions and people behind the plates, soak up a sense of place with intimate excursions to Maui’s off-the touristpath culinary treasures and come away with a deeper understanding of Maui’s multicultural community and history.
Every Tuesday – Ali’i Kula Lavender is offering $1 cups of tea and 50% off guided tours.
Eat Local Challenge 2011! – Maui residents and businesses participate in the statewide initiative organized by Kanu Hawai‘i.
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.
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.