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U.S. coffee welcomes new bill to protect coffee supplies

For immediate release

February 10, 2023 | NEW YORK – The National Coffee Association (NCA), World Coffee Research (WCR), the Synergistic Hawaii Agricultural Council (SHAC), and the Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) applaud the Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act (CPHIAA, H.R. 965) introduced Thursday by Rep. Jill Tokuda (HI-02) along with Reps. Jenniffer González-Colón (P.R.), Ed Case (HI-01), and Garret Graves (LA-06) and Sens. Mazie Hirono (HI) and Brian Schatz (HI). The amendment authorizes research to combat pests and diseases that threaten coffee supplies and farmers by expanding the scope of an existing initiative at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The $225 billion U.S. coffee sector and more than 1.6 million U.S. jobs rely on coffee supplies from around the world. Coffee growers in Hawaii and Puerto Rico that supply the lucrative specialty coffee market in the United States, as well as growers in low-income countries, are particularly vulnerable to pests and disease. The CPHIAA will accelerate agricultural research to help overcome these challenges while maintaining flavor and quality.

“More Americans (66% of adults) drink coffee each day than any other beverage,” said William “Bill” Murray, President and CEO of the NCA. “As agricultural research and development plays a key role in the future of America’s favorite beverage, NCA urges Congress to advance legislation that prioritizes coffee as a key contributor to Americans’ daily lives, farmers’ livelihoods, and the U.S. economy.”

“From Kona to Maui to Mayaguez, coffee is woven into our island cultures and drives over $500 million in benefits to our communities,” said Suzanne Shriner, Administrator of SHAC. “Hawaiian growers have been devastated by diseases such as leaf rust, which arrived in 2020 and cut crop yields in half after causing $1 billion in damages globally and forcing farm workers, particularly in Central America, to abandon farms and even migrate. This bill focuses needed research attention on our biggest problems, while helping our small farmers stay in business.”

“We are proud to support the Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act,” said Chris Manfredi, Executive Director of the HCA. “This important legislation will help Hawaii target resources toward the most immediate threats to our coffee. By also anticipating future threats, it will enable researchers to quickly pivot as they emerge and ensure the survival of one of Hawaii’s most important crops.”

“The mainland coffee industry in the U.S. will also benefit from this legislation and resulting research,” said Vern Long, CEO of World Coffee Research. “U.S. coffee businesses and drinkers rely on coffee grown around the world. CPHIAA will enable much-needed research at a time when coffee is under severe strain. Public research aligned with industry needs is critical to securing the future of coffee.”

Legislators are seeking to include the CPHIAA in the 2023 Farm Bill to amend a program established in the 1990 Farm Bill that focused exclusively on the coffee berry borer pest.

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