Letters 10-14-2012


Coffee industry

Seller beware

October in Kona brings the arduous task of harvesting coffee beans by hard-working farmers and dedicated pickers. Unfortunately, October also brings another wave of scams, swindles and outright chicanery. Some of the coffee buyers of Kona coffee beans are continuing to deceive Kona coffee farmers, just as they did last year.

The coffee borer beetle has decreased production of healthy beans but increased the number of unscrupulous buyers. Many farmers leave their coffee at drop stations where it is weighed and then sent to the mill for inspection for borer beetles.

The mill graders use various methods of ascertaining the percentage of infestation with the higher the amount of infestation resulting in lower payments to the farmer. A great deal of trust is placed on the buyer to honestly report the amount of infestation.

Some of the buyers are lying about the amount of borer beetles found in the coffee. For example; a farmer might drop off 1,000 pounds of coffee and later find out the purchasing mill has deemed that coffee to be 30 percent infested by beetles and pays the farmer a deducted rate but keeps 100 percent of the coffee.

The diligent farmer takes his coffee directly to the mill, watches the inspection process and then decides if he agrees with the mill’s decision. If not, he can and should take his coffee somewhere else. Call the various buyers first. See how their grading process is done and never leave your coffee, expecting an honest return.

Another scam is the faulty scale trick. The buyer has a scale that has been calibrated to weigh a lot less that it actually does. This old “thumb on the scale” trick is ages old but still being used. A simple solution to this rip-off is to bring your own weight, anything that you know to be exact, and put it on the buyer’s scale. If he objects, go somewhere else. Once again, never leave your coffee until you’ve seen it weighed and are sure that the scale being used is correct.

Many buyers pay a higher rate if you agree to wait 30 days or more for payment. Don’t do it. Many, many farmers or sellers will never see that check in 30 days, in 60 days, or ever. Be aware, not all coffee buyers are being honest with the sellers. Some very smart people have recently moved to Kona after making a fortune in some other line of work on the mainland. They might not know anything about Kona coffee but they do know how to rip you off. Protect yourself.

Deborah Wielt

Keei Mauka

Furloughs

Just one more time

Let’s put this to sleep: By Hawaii law, the governor cannot furlough teachers.

Linda Lingle did not furlough any teachers. When faced with a $3 billion state deficit, Gov. Lingle, being the leader she is, directed all of the state departments to find a solution to the budget crunch. Where teachers are concerned, the DOE and BOE got together with their friends at the HSTA and came up with 17 days of furlough to be taken on instructional days.

When they presented their proposal to the governor, she gently pushed it back to them while asking if they really wanted the furloughs to be on instructional days.

The gang of three then pushed it back to the governor, while standing firm in their selection of instructional days. The governor asked them one more time to reconsider and they refused. So, all the hardship caused to families because of the furloughs was brought on and consummated by the top-level managers in the DOE/BOE and the union bosses in the HSTA. Check out the details in the recent edition of the Honolulu Magazine, “Wrong on Furlough Fridays.”

Anyone affected by the furloughs owes it to themselves to do his homework. Teachers should be thanking Lingle for saving their jobs and families should be asking the teachers why they accepted instructional days in lieu of standing up to the union and demanding they be furloughed on days that would not affect their students’ education.

Robert May

Captain Cook