The Hawaii State Department of Agriculture will hold two public hearings Thursday to get input on their proposal to restrict intrastate movement of coffee plants, beans, used bags, and equipment to prevent further spread of the coffee berry borer. The proposal includes a provision to allow such movement with a permit, which would require inspection of some kind. A temporary quarantine has been in place, but it expired December 2, 2011, so for the last month there has been no quarantine. This new move is to create a permanent quarantine.
The Department of Agriculture is proposing to designate the entire island of Hawaii as a coffee berry borer infested area. They also intend to designate other islands as coffee berry borer restricted areas. While they acknowledge measures are in place to control the spread, the intent is to prevent further spread of the pest.
The department’s proposed administrative order would authorize the Plant Quarantine Branch to issue permits for intrastate transportation of coffee plants, plant parts, green (unroasted) coffee beans, used coffee bags, and coffee harvesting equipment from a coffee berry borer infested area. They also propose exempting growers from the restrictions if they are directly exported out of the state, not shipped through uninfested areas. The rule addresses mitigation measures, including treating the coffee with pesticides and putting it in quarantine for one year in an approved facility.
The Department says the cost of all mitigation must be borne by the “coffee industry,” but they don’t specify how this will occur. Nor do they detail any new inspection processes.
Cecilia Smith of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association says no public notice was given of the hearings. She says the proposed changes will have an adverse affect on all Hawaii Island coffee farmers, especially those in the Kona region where the coffee berry borer has been discovered. However, the temporary quarantine which expired in December was always intended to be replaced by a permanent quarantine, according to Department of Agriculture officials. They say it’s important to help control the coffee berry borer.
The hearings schedule for Hawaii Island:
January 5, 2012, 8:00 a.m., Kona Imin Center, 76-5893A Old Mamalahoa Highway, Holualoa, Hawaii 96725
January 5, 2012, 3:00 p.m., Conference Room, Department of Agriculture, 16E Lanikaula Street, Hilo, Hawaii 96720
The Department also says it will accept written testimony, but only until January 6, Friday, at the Plant Quarantine Branch, 1849 Auiki Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96819 or by fax to (808) 832-0584. There was a hearing earlier this week on Oahu and there was no public testimony.
The full proposal is online at the State Department of Agriculture web site,