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One million dollar federal funding to fight number one threat to Hawaii's coffee industry

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HONOLULU (Hawaii News Now)- One million dollars in federal funding will help fight the number one threat to the State's coffee industry: the Coffee Berry Borer.

Senator Mazie Hirono's request to the US Department of Agriculture for 'urgent assistance' resulted in the first federal funding to control the destructive beetle.

The Coffee Berry Borer has been on a feeding frenzy. Spreading fast and furious, since its arrival in Hawaii's premiere coffee producing region in 2010.

Suzanne Shriner, a Kona coffee farmer helped educate others in a video released last year by the Kona Coffee Farmers.

But the entomologist covering the west side of Hawaii Island says 100 percent of Kona and Ka'u farms are under attack.

As the video warns, "As the young cherry matures, the CBB is often waiting at the end of the bean." As the bean hardens, the beetle digs in, damaging the harvest.

The USDA has committed one million dollars to fend off the threat to Hawaii's 31-million dollar coffee industry.

Senator Hirono applauds the quick response from USDA, saying "The US Dept.of Agriculture has acknowledged that Hawaii which is the only state that grows coffee is such a unique environment and this kind of area approach was needed."

It's the first federal funding to battle the bug. The money will be used to establish a pest management program, through the Pacific Basin Agricultural Research Center in Hilo.

Senator Hirono stresses the importance of protecting the coffee crop, adding "We grow some of the best coffee in the world. We have a tremendous reputation and we want to make sure our coffee industry remains strong."

The state has dedicated 500-thousand this year to control the Coffee Berry Borer.

There's a ripple effect from the pest feasting on farms. The quality of the coffee bean has suffered-- while costs for consumers have gone up.

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