WCR Advocacy Aims to Increase U.S. Government Support for Coffee
Advocacy aligns with National Coffee Association legislative agenda
World Coffee Research has added advocacy activities in the U.S. to its global leadership portfolio this year.
WCR’s advocacy aligns with the National Coffee Association’s (NCA) legislative agenda. WCR is focusing on the research and development components of that agenda to increase U.S. government support for coffee research.
“Nearly 190 million Americans drink coffee every day, yet the future of coffee is at risk. Research will help us protect it. We are thrilled to have World Coffee Research working closely with us to support legislation that will keep coffee flowing for decades to come,” said Bill Murray, president and CEO of the National Coffee Association.
This year, WCR advocacy activities aim to increase U.S. Congressional support for legislation of strategic interest to the coffee industry, namely the Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act (CPHIAA) and the Global Food Security Act.
Both pieces of legislation underpin U.S. federal programs that can improve the long-term, stable supply of coffee and the livelihoods of those that grow it. The CPHIAA addresses coffee pests and diseases, while the Global Food Security Act focuses on reducing poverty and increasing viability of smallholder farmers, including those on which the coffee industry relies.
“Our long-term vision is not just to unlock more funding, but to increase appreciation and capacity for coffee research within the U.S. government,” said WCR CEO Vern Long. “Research for coffee is severely underinvested compared to research on other commodities that have similar economic value. It’s time coffee was recognized for the economic powerhouse it is, and supported as such. Advocating as an industry is a key way we can make that happen.”
The Coffee Plant Health Initiative Amendments Act is a key example of how grower and industry concerns align. This legislation would broaden an existing research program to address all coffee pests and diseases, including coffee leaf rust challenges in Hawaii.
In 2021, WCR connected with Hawaii Representative Kai Kahele’s office, which sponsored the legislation, to ensure messaging and advocacy was aligned. WCR then developed a CPHIAA handout for Congress that highlighted member company support for the legislation. WCR also contributed to NCA letters of support and continues to solicit support for CPHIAA in ongoing meetings with Congressional staff.
The most powerful aspect of WCR’s advocacy for this legislation has been U.S. member company involvement. Numerous companies have reached out to their existing Congressional connections to ask them to co-sponsor the bill (see the full list of endorsers below), written letters to their Congressional representatives, and taken part in meetings with Congressional staff.
“It is incredibly important that legislators hear from employers in their states and districts about legislation that can impact coffee—which everyone wants to drink and so many livelihoods depend upon. A call, letter or meeting can make all the difference,” said Doug Welsh, Vice President of Coffee at Peet's, whose outreach engaged the office of Rep. Barbara Lee, a co-sponsor for the CPHIAA.
As a result, 13 Members of Congress have added themselves as co-sponsors to the legislation so far (full list below), which increases the chances that it can be addressed and passed later this year.
Greater investment and collaboration in coffee research is needed across the globe as the industry faces challenges like climate change, pests and disease, and supply chain disruption that threaten origin diversity, stable supplies, and grower livelihoods. WCR is exploring additional opportunities to expand advocacy in the U.K. and European Union in conjunction with trade association partners in Europe.
Endorsements (as of Mar 10, 2022)
American Farm Bureau Federation, American Sugar Alliance, American Sugar Cane League, Community Coffee, Diversity Coffee Company, Florida Sugar Cane League, Hawaii Coffee Association, Hawaii Coffee Growers Association, Hawaii Farm Bureau Federation, Intelligentsia Coffee, International Women's Coffee Alliance, The J.M. Smucker Co., Kauai Coffee Company, Kau Coffee Growers Cooperative, Keurig Dr Pepper, Kona Coffee Farmers Association, Massimo Zanetti Beverage, Mahi Pono, Maui Coffee Association, National Coffee Association, Pacific Espresso, Peet's Coffee, Puerto Rico Coffee Roasters, Puerto Rico Farm Bureau, Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers, University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, and Westrock Coffee Company, as well as many coffee growers.
Co-sponsors to date (as of Mar 10, 2022)
Rep. André Carson (Ind.), Rep. Anthony E. Gonzalez (Ohio), Rep. Aumua Amata Radewagen (American Samoa), Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Rep. Ed Case (Hawaii), Rep. Garret Graves (La.), Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands), Rep. Jenniffer González Colón (Puerto Rico), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (Calif.), Rep. Julia Brownley (Calif.), Rep. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam), Rep. Seth Moulton (Mass.), and Rep. Tim Burchett (Tenn.).