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Congresswoman Hirono Announces Availability of Disaster Aid for Hawai'i Farmers

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Deadline for Federal "Buy-In" is September 16th

Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai'i) announces the availability of federal disaster aid for Hawai'i farmers through the recent passage of the 2008 Farm Bill.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency (FSA) will now allow producers who would otherwise be ineligible for the new disaster assistance programs to be become eligible by paying a "buy-in" fee as required by the Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

Congresswoman Hirono voted in favor of the 2008 Farm Bill that, in part, aims to provide disaster aid eligibility to farmers whose crops have been hard hit by adverse weather, such as flooding or drought conditions; or other natural disasters.

"This program is designed to help farmers across the island chain. The most recent example can be found on the Big Island where crops have been destroyed by the ongoing spread of vog," said Hirono. "I hope the affected farmers will take advantage of this federal opportunity."

Because the 2008 Farm Bill was enacted after the application periods had closed for crop insurance and for Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Programs (NAP), farmers who did not sign up for 2008 coverage will not be eligible for this latest round of anticipated disaster benefits unless they pay the "buy-in" fee.

The "buy-in" fee ranges from $0-$900, depending on a farmer's circumstance.

Failure to pay the fee will leave farmers ineligible for federal disaster aid.

State Representative Robert Herkes, who represents the southern end of Hawai'i Island, helped brief Congresswoman Hirono on the impact vog has had on his constituents.

"On behalf of the many Big Island farmers who have been devastated by the vog our profound thanks go to Congresswoman Hirono for her untiring efforts to bring some financial relief to these farmers. The protea and cut flower growers in Ocean View and Wood Valley in particular have been hard hit and this financial relief is especially welcome and timely," Herkes said.

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