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  • 23 Nov 2022 11:06 AM | Alla Kostenko

    New Programs Will Provide Additional Pandemic and Natural Disaster Assistance for 2020 and 2021; Deadline Announced for Previous Emergency Relief 


    WASHINGTON, Nov. 15, 2022 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced plans for additional emergency relief and pandemic assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). USDA is preparing to roll out the Emergency Relief Program (ERP) Phase Two as well as the new Pandemic Assistance Revenue Program (PARP), which are two programs to help offset crop and revenue losses for producers.  USDA is sharing early information to help producers gather documents and train front-line staff on the new approach. 

    “We have worked diligently to help agricultural producers bounce back from devastating natural disasters as well as the coronavirus pandemic through an extensive suite of programs,” said Vilsack. “No matter how well we design these targeted efforts, we often find that some producers fall through the cracks or were harmed more severely than their neighbors. These new programs apply a holistic approach to emergency assistance – an approach not focused on any one disaster event or commodity but rather one focused on filling gaps in assistance for agricultural producers who have, over the past few years, suffered losses from natural disasters and the pandemic.”   

    ERP Phase Two will assist eligible agricultural producers who suffered eligible crop losses, measured through decreases in revenue, due to wildfires, hurricanes, floods, derechos, excessive heat, winter storms, freeze (including a polar vortex), smoke exposure, excessive moisture and qualifying droughts occurring in calendar years 2020 and 2021.    

    PARP will assist eligible producers of agricultural commodities who experienced revenue decreases in calendar year 2020 compared to 2018 or 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. PARP will help address gaps in previous pandemic assistance, which was targeted at price loss or lack of market access, rather than overall revenue losses.   Continue reading...

  • 13 Nov 2022 10:36 AM | Alla Kostenko

    This year's top scoring coffees from the 51st Annual Kona Coffee Cultural Festival Cupping Competition are a collection of unique varieties and some experimental processing methods. 66 coffee entries were submitted into this year's competition. Kona Farm Direct took first place in the Classic Division - reserved for small-holder farms and celebrating innovation - with a fruit-dried (natural-process) Mokka variety scoring 86.42. Top Ten coffees in this division saw a very tight competition and scored within less than 1.5 points of each other. This year's Kona Heritage Award - a parchment-dried (washed) Typica variety in celebration of traditional cultivation techniques in Kona coffee - went to Ka'awaloa Trail Farm finishing in Fifth Place overall and scoring 86.13. The Crown Division award -required HDOA certification for a 500 lb lot and reserved for larger farms and mills - went to a parchment-dried Typica entry from Imagine 100% Kona Coffee scoring 83.65.

    The cupping competition strictly followed Specialty Coffee Association cupping methodology and protocol and was hosted by Pacific Coffee Research of Kailua Kona, Hawai'i in their Coffee Quality Institute certified lab.

    "I am so proud of the Kona coffee growers' tenacity and dedication to producing quality coffee despite so many obstacles over the past few years. Your pursuit paves way for a younger generation's opportunity to innovate and elevate the Kona coffee industry."

    - Brittany Horn, 2022 KCCP Cupping Competition Committee Chair

    Kona Coffee Cupping Competition Final Rankings

  • 07 Nov 2022 6:50 PM | Alla Kostenko

    This week, HCA's SHAC representatives hosted a group of coffee buyers, roasters, and company executives from Taiwan. Ralph Gaston and Madeleine Longoria Garcia coordinated the trip in partnership with the DBEDT offices in Honolulu and Taipei. The group visited coffee growers, mills, roasteries, and cafes in Honolulu, Kona, Ka'ū, and Hilo. There were several opportunities for growers to connect with the group to forge business relationships and increase Hawai‘i coffee knowledge and exports to Taiwan. We look forward to seeing the results of this trip in the coming years.

  • 07 Nov 2022 6:32 PM | Alla Kostenko

    Respirator fit test training is required annually or when workplace conditions change or a new type of respirator is used.

    Under the Worker Protection Standard (WPS) as revised in 2015, there are specific requirements for handlers and applicators when organic and non-organic pesticide labels require the use of a respirator.

    Handlers and applicators are employees, owners and family members who apply, load, unload, rinse pesticide application equipment, or do other tasks involving the direct handling of pesticides.

    According to OSHA, your employer must provide respirators, training, and medical evaluations at no cost to the employee. Your employer must also provide a medical evaluation to determine employee’s ability to use a respirator, before fit testing and use. 

    To learn more or register here if you're interested in a future Respirator Fit Test training session.

  • 18 Sep 2022 5:06 PM | Alla Kostenko

    The Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) returned as host of the Hawaii Prelims for the 2023 Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) US CoffeeChamps (USCC). This yearʻs Hawaii Prelims recently presented the Roasters and Brewers Cup Competitions on Oahu. Tradition Coffee Roasters of Kailua offered their venue to host the slate of competitors and their support teams. Open to the public, the two-day event was lively and energetic with music, food trucks, winery and distillery tours, lots of Hawaii-grown coffee beverages and friendly competition.

    Honolulu Coffee Company competitors swept the three top rankings for the Brewers Cup competition. Earning first place was returning competitor Thomas Kiesling, using Big Island Coffee Roasters Kona-grown Red Bourbon, washed process (parchment-dried) coffee. Both first-time competitors, Melia Hardin placed second and Rebekah Tucker took third, while returning competitor Kyla Villamor of Cafe Villamor in Honolulu placing fourth. All three used Paradise Coffee’s Ka’u-grown Red Bourbon, natural process (fruit-dried) coffee. Each competitor has a reserved slot in the Qualifying Round in 2023.

    In the Brewers Cup Competition, competitors were given 20 minutes to create and serve two individual brews using Hawaii-grown coffee for two sensory judges. The host-provided, Hawaii-grown coffees were sponsored by Hala Tree Coffee, Paradise Coffee and Big Island Coffee Roasters. Competitors utilized manual coffee brewers such as Hario V-60, Fellow Stagg, Clever Drippe and French Press, and then brewed coffee for the judges while giving an eight-minute presentation about their brewing process and the coffee selected. The sensory judge panel included local coffee professionals Juleigh Burden, John Letoto, Ross Broznan, Alex Brooks and Head Judge Brittany Horn of Pacific Coffee Research.

    For the first time, the HCA hosted the Roaster Competition, which consists of three components: Cup-To-Profile Presentations, Judges Cupping and Audience Service. Final top three Roaster rankings included Mark Kove of White Nene Coffee Roasters in Kailua-Kona taking first, Thomas Kiesling of Honolulu Coffee placing second and Frank La of Be Bright Coffee of Los Angeles, Calif. earning third. Each has a reserved slot in the 2023 Qualifying Round.


  • 04 Aug 2022 2:46 AM | Alla Kostenko

    KITV Article

    Recapturing the pre-pandemic momentum of the 2019 Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) US CoffeeChamps (USCC) Barista & Brewer’s Cup Preliminary Competitions, the Hawaii Coffee Association (HCA) returns as host of the 2023 SCA USCC Hawaii Prelims for the Roasters and Brewers Cup Competitions on Oahu.  Competitors will vie for top honors in each category for a chance to advance to the Qualifying Round. The SCA USCC Hawaii Prelim events are August 19-21, 2022 at Tradition Coffee Roasters, 905 Kalanianaole Highway, #3201 in Kailua.  

    In the Brewers Cup Competition, competitors will be given 20 minutes to create and serve two individual brews using Hawaii-grown coffee for two sensory judges. The host-provided coffees must be sourced from two or more local coffee roasting companies. Competitors may utilize any set of brewing devices of their choosing, so long as they qualify according to the competition rules.

    For the first time ever, the HCA is excited to host the Roaster Competition, which consists of three components: Cup-To-Profile Presentations, Judges Cupping and Audience Service. In the Cup-To-Profile Presentations, competitors have five minutes to present, but not serve, their Hawaii-grown coffee to two judges. During the Judges Cupping segment, judges evaluate each competitor’s roasted coffee in a blind cupping. In the third segment, competitors have 20-30 minutes to serve their Hawaii-grown coffee to the audience. Competitors will be evaluated and scored by a head judge and two sensory judges. Competitor’s coffee will be brewed on batch brewers by volunteers before the start of the Audience Service.

    This year, the event will be open to the public on August 20-21 at Tradition Coffee Roasters. Those interested in expanding their coffee knowledge, learn more about the intricacies of Hawaii coffee and see how coffee is evaluated are strongly encouraged to attend. There will be various events throughout the day as well as food and entertainment.

    “These exciting events are intended to provide a platform on which Hawaii can showcase our local talent on the world stage. Hawaii is home to some of the most skilled coffee professionals anywhere. Their ability to roast and prepare Hawaii-grown coffee is unsurpassed. We’re thrilled that the USCC has chosen Hawaii as the location for this important qualifying event,” said Brittany Horn HCA director and presiding Head Judge for the USCC Brewers Cup.

    Deadline for registration for the Roaster and Brewer's Cup Competitions is August 5 and August 15, 2022 respectively. Sponsor opportunities are available.

    For more information, visit the HCA’s website:

    For more information on US Coffee Companionships visit:

    The Hawaii Coffee Association’s mission is to represent all sectors of the Hawaii coffee industry, including growers, millers, wholesalers, roasters and retailers. The HCA’s primary objective is to increase awareness and consumption of Hawaiian coffees.  A major component of HCA’s work is the continuing education of members and consumers. Learn more about the HCA at

  • 04 Aug 2022 2:37 AM | Alla Kostenko


    Signup is ongoing for USDA 2022 Reimbursement Transportation Cost Program (RTCP). The deadline to apply is 09/02/2022.   

    Please review the eligible/ineligible expense guidelines carefully.  Eligible expense provisions will likely be the same.  The eligible expense period will be from 10/01/2021 through 09/30/2022.  Deadline to submit expense documentation will likely first week of November, 2022.  Please take note and submit expense documentation by Halloween 10/31/2022.  

    IMPORTANT:  If you would like assistance with filing an application please send an email to all three of the following staff:

    Please feel free to call 808-861-8538, #104 or email if you have questions.  Mahalo and have a wonderful weekend! Jason

    Jason G. Shitanishi
    County Executive Director
    Farm Service Agency
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Tel: (808) 861-8538 ext. 104

  • 19 Jul 2022 12:19 PM | Alla Kostenko

    My name is Susie Meyer and I am the recruiter for the USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program at Partners of the Americas. F2F is a program that promotes economic development and food security abroad by sending volunteer technical specialists from the U.S. to Latin America to provide technical assistance to producers, cooperatives, agribusinesses, NGO’s, and educational institutions (referred to as “hosts”). Our program covers all volunteer costs including airfare, lodging, meals, insurance, and any other assignment-related expenses.

    I am wondering if you would be interested in an in-person assignment in Guatemala for 15 days in September or October. Please find brief descriptions of open opportunities below:

    • Professional Coffee Taster – APOLO
      APOLO coffee is expanding to new markets but lacks knowledge of how to market their coffee because they do not know what kind of qualities or potential their coffee has. An F2F volunteer is needed to train APOLO staff in cupping processes as well as the techniques and parameters to determine the quality of the coffee as well as the best barista techniques. It is expected that at the end of the assignment APOLO will have a reference for cupping and the correct barista methodology to continue replicating the process. This assignment contributes to the broader goals and objectives of the Rural Enterprise Development project by supporting coffee holder’s companies in one of Guatemala’s most lucrative value chains.  
    • Coffee Business Development – FECCEG
      Currently, FECCEG only exports green coffee beans, however they are looking to open a coffee shop and roasting facility in the U.S. A F2F volunteer is needed to create a feasibility and validation analysis for the new store that includes sales strategies, marketing, e-commerce, logistics in U.S. and online sales strategies. It is expected that at the end of the assignment the host will have a defined sales strategy for marketing online and a brick and mortar store on the U.S. This assignments contributes to the broader goals and objectives of the Rural Enterprise Development project by supporting smallholder companies in one of Guatemala’s most lucrative value chains sustainably grow.  
    • Coffee Industry Expert – FECCEG
      The FECCEG is seeking enter a new market at various levels of the value chain by roasting its coffee beans. A F2F volunteer is needed to initiate a coffee shop network for final consumers and connect a distribution line of organic products and companies with a social responsibility for coffee. It is expected that at the end of the assignment FECCEG will understand the operational costs for roasting beans along with an investment plan, network of potential customers, and a reference of potential distribution and supply partners. This assignments contributes to the broader goals and objectives of the Rural Enterprise Development project by supporting small, medium, and large holder companies in one of Guatemala’s most lucrative value chains, coffee.

    Partners of the Americas employs a COVID-19 safe protocol on all F2F assignments. This includes appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment, mask-wearing, social distancing, and checks for vaccination status. All assignments will be assessed for risk prior to travel, taking into account the varying levels of COVID-19 throughout the region. We have already supported numerous volunteers travel to 5 countries in the Caribbean basin to complete their 15-day F2F assignments with the support of our fantastic field teams.

    To comply with our COVID-19 safe protocol, we require that all F2F volunteers be fully vaccinated prior to travel. This includes receiving a booster shot if it has been more than 6 months since your last dose of Pfizer or Moderna or more than 2 months since your last dose of Johnson & Johnson.

    Please also verify that your passport expiration date is at least 6 months from expected travel date.

    Please let me know if you – or someone you know – would like to be considered as a potential volunteer or if you have any questions.


    Susie Meyer

    202-637-6206 email

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