Hirono to Meet With Coffee Farmers, Tour FUDS Sites

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As Congress breaks for recess, Sen. Mazie Hirono will be visiting the state this week, including a trip to the Big Island Thursday where she will meet with coffee farmers to discuss efforts to battle the coffee berry borer beetle.

Hirono has been working with other members of Hawaii’s congressional delegation seeking federal funding to fight the pest that has cost Big Island coffee farmers more than $9 million over the past two years.

Hirono will tour the Greenwell Coffee Farm in Kealakekua at 9:45 a.m.

The beetle was first discovered in Kona orchards in 2010 and in Ka`u the following year.

Hirono announced last month that the US Department of Agriculture had agreed to spend at least $1 million to help manage the pest.

The funding also freed $800,000 in matching state funds for mitigation of the beetle’s impact as well as research into stemming its advance.

At 11:30 a.m., she will be at the West Hawaii Civic Center to make an announcement about the launch of a new Social Security video conferencing service in West Hawaii.

Her trip will also include a visit in the afternoon to Waimea to learn about the progress made by the US Army Corps of Engineers cleaning up Formerly Used Defense Sites.

Unexploded ordnance is a major concern in the former Waikoloa Maneuver Area where military training was conducted during World War II.

According to military sources, more than $150 million has been spent since 2000 cleaning up FUDS sites in the former training area which encompassed more than 137,000 acres in South Kohala.

Surveys have determined that more than 50,000 of those acres are considered as being of “moderate-to-high” risk to people especially as more of the former training area is converted to residential subdivisions or other developments.


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