Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Agriculture Bills Signed into Law

House Bill 1514, a measure introduced by Representative Nicole Lowen (District 6-Kailua Kona, Holualoa) to combat the devastating effects of the coffee berry borer (CBB) infestation, was signed into law today by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Representative Lowen and Governor Abercrombie with the signed HB1514
The law creates a five-year subsidy program under the Department of Agriculture (DOA) to grant subsidies for coffee farmers to assist in offsetting the costs of combating the coffee berry borer beetle. The law also includes $500,000 in funding for the program.

“Subsidy programs like this have helped in other coffee-growing regions to provide an incentive for farmers to adopt best practices, and I’m hopeful that it will do the same in Kona. Direct assistance from the State is critical for our coffee farmers, and this bill accomplishes that,” said Rep. Lowen.

Under the program, a single coffee farmer may receive reimbursement for the expense of the organic fungus used to control the pest of up to $600 per year per acre of land in coffee production, but not more than $9,000 per year. The legislation will go into effect on July 1, 2014.

In recent years the coffee berry borer beetle has become a major threat to Hawaii's coffee industry, which is responsible for $30 million in revenue annually. Past efforts by Representative Lowen have provided additional funds of $800,000 funds to help mitigate and study the infestation. This program will further help protect and maintain Hawaii’s coffee industry.

Also signed into law today were 5 other agriculture-related measures including:
  • HB737, which allows the state to issue special purpose revenue bonds for all agricultural enterprises
  • HB1618, amending the makeup of the Board of Land and Natural Resources to have a member with expertise in native Hawaiian practices instead of in conservation and natural resources
  • HB1716, appropriating $5 million to the Hawaii Invasive Species Council
  • HB1931, appropriating $360,000 to the Department of Agriculture to research and develop methods for the prevention and treatment of macadamia felted coccid
  • HB2664, clarifying language relating to the agricultural land qualified agricultural cost tax credit

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