Maui News

USDA Urged to Release Funds to Hawai‘i Farmers Affected by Natural Disasters

September 14, 2018, 10:52 AM HST
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West Maui Fire 8.24.18. Photos: Maui Police Department / County of Maui.

The Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation urged the US Department of Agriculture to utilize its existing authority to provide direct assistance to Hawaiʻi farmers affected by recent natural disasters.

“The dire situation that our farmers and producers are currently experiencing as a result of recent disasters cannot be overstated,” the Delegation wrote. “We are already hearing reports of farmers, who employed multiple families and had millions invested in their agricultural business, having to lay off all of their employees and completely walk away from the agricultural industry because they lost all of their assets and cannot qualify for new loans to start over. Agriculture in Hawaiʻi is not easy during the best of times and now during the worst of times, many of our farmers and producers are being forced to give up on agriculture.”

“Many aspects of Hawaiʻi’s agricultural community have been greatly transformed by recent disasters and our producers desperately need the maximum assistance practicable to get back on their feet and continue contributing to our agricultural industry,” the Delegation continued. “As such, we request that USDA utilize the existing authority provided in the [Commodity Credit Corporation Charter] Act, Section 32, and/or provide a portion of the funds set aside to offset retaliatory tariffs to our impacted farmers and producers in Hawaiʻi.”

In the letter, the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation outlined the detrimental effects that natural disasters have had on Hawaiʻi’s floriculture and nursery product industry, vegetable crop industry, coffee industry, and fruit and tree nut industry.

USDA can provide direct assistance to Hawaiʻi farmers through existing authority in the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter (CCC) Act (15 U.S.C. 714c), Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment of 1935 (P.L. 74-320, 7 U.S.C. 612c), and/or by allocating a portion of the billions of dollars that USDA is using to offset the impacts of tariffs to provide ad-hoc disaster assistance for Hawaiʻi farmers. USDA has previously used these authorities to assist farmers in Puerto Rico following hurricanes in 2017.

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