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State briefs for May 23

EPA approves fungicide for coffee leaf rust

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved a request by coffee growers in Hawaii to use fungicide to fight a pathogen found on Maui, Hawaii, Oahu and Lanai islands.

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The federal agency notified the Hawaii Department of Agriculture earlier this week, approving its request for farmers to fight coffee leaf rust with Priaxor Xemium.

Coffee leaf rust was first detected on Maui and the Big Island in October 2020 and on Oahu and Lanai in January 2021. Infections, which cause coffee plants to change colors, have the ability to wipe out entire coffee crops. Its discovery prompted the Hawaii Board of Agriculture to restrict the movement of coffee plants from the islands.

Priaxor Xemium is permitted for use in controlling leafy vegetables, strawberries, tomatoes, soybeans, wheat and other crops, but was not labeled for specific use on coffee plants.

The state Department of Agriculture, which filed a request in March for an emergency exemption, will now be able to use the fungicide for a year or until its use on coffee plants is added to the product label by the EPA and its producer.

“Hawaii coffee growers now have an added method to combat the coffee leaf rust, which is extremely difficult to manage,” Hawaii Board of Agriculture Chair Phyllis Shimabukuro-Geiser said.

The board has announced plans to host webinars on the use of the fungicide in June.

Vaccinated travelers to Maui exempt from test

WAILUKU, Maui (AP) — County officials in Maui are reminding travelers that they must provide COVID-19 vaccination documentation to be exempted from the testing requirement upon arriving on the island.

Maui County began requiring all trans-Pacific travelers participating in the Safe Travels program to take an additional rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival beginning May 4. But fully vaccinated trans-Pacific travelers in the program do not need to take a test with proof of vaccination.

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Travelers are considered vaccinated after 14 days have passed since receiving both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson &Johnson vaccine.

“We remind trans-Pacific travelers that they need to provide proper documentation to be exempted from the post-arrival test,” Maui Mayor Michael Victorino said. “We need an original CDC vaccination card or a certificate of vaccination from the CDC. We are not accepting copies or photos of vaccination cards.”

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