The San Juan Daily Star
Resident commissioner co-authors legislation to strengthen coffee industry
By The Star Staff
Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón has co-authored a measure to protect and strengthen the coffee industry, she announced Sunday.
The bipartisan Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act (HR 965) expands the current language of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) initiatives to support the coffee industry, improve the tools available to domestic coffee growers to combat pests and diseases, and expand critical research.
Co-led by González Colón, it is the first measure authored by the recently sworn in Rep. Jill Tokuda (D-Hawaii), and is also co-authored by Reps. Ed Case (D-Hawaii) and Garret Graves (R-La.), and Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).
“Coffee is an everyday staple for millions of people across the country and an iconic product of Hawaii’s agricultural industry. A significant contribution to our economy, the 2021-2022 season produced an estimated $61.9 million in production value from our farms in Hawaii, and our coffee industry employs thousands of residents,” Tokuda said. “Our farmers face an uphill battle in the fight against invasive pests, diseases, droughts and changing weather patterns. They urgently need and deserve all our support and access to resources to make sure the coffee industry thrives well into the future.”
González Colón added that “coffee is one of the most prized agricultural products in Puerto Rico.”
“This bill seeks to protect this crop from emerging threats, such as coffee borer, among others, and promote greater collaboration with USDA through increased research and development of science-based tools and treatments,” she said.
Case, meanwhile, noted that “coffee, an iconic crop grown in Hawaii for two centuries, faces myriad challenges, including rising cost of production, labor shortages, supply chain disruptions, drought and the COVID-19 pandemic, but now the most important thing is coffee rust.”
“The alignment of threats has caused an estimated 50 percent reduction in coffee harvest across the state,” he said. “This legislation is one more tool needed to ensure the survival and prosperity of our agricultural industry.”