Drought Results in “Primary Natural Disaster Area” Designation for Maui

April 22, 2016, 8:15 AM HST · Updated April 22, 8:17 AM
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Ranching on Maui, file photo by Wendy Osher.

Ranching on Maui, file photo by Wendy Osher.

The US Department of Agriculture has designated Maui County as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by a recent drought.

“Our hearts go out to those Hawaiʻi farmers and ranchers affected by the recent natural disaster,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that agriculture remains a bright spot in our nation’s economy by sustaining the successes of America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities through these difficult times. We’re also telling Hawaiʻi producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

ʻUlupalakua Ranch, cattle crossing. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Cattle crossing road in Upcountry, Maui. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Farmers and ranchers in Kalawao County on the island of Molokaʻi in Hawaiʻi also qualifies for natural disaster assistance because their county is contiguous.

Maui and Kalawao (Kalaupapa, Molokaʻi) counties were designated as a natural disaster area on April 20, 2016, making all qualified farm operators in the locations eligible for low interest emergency loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency, provided eligibility requirements are met.

Farmers have eight months from the date of the declaration to apply for loans to help cover part of their actual losses. FSA will consider each loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of losses, security available and repayment ability.

On April 12, the US Drought Monitor reported that 98.3% of the state was abnormally dry or drier.  Only isolated moderate precipitation fell on the parts of Hawaiʻi experiencing dryness and drought, and the depiction is unchanged from the previous week.

According to the USDA’s Crop Weather report, the Molokaʻi Irrigation System water level was marked at 39.00 feet (858.00 MG) on Thursday, April 14, 2016, up 0.25 from the previous Friday’s reading.  Conservation measures urged all non-homestead water users to cutback water consumption by 10 percent.

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