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Legislation Passes to Provide Damage Assessment for Farmers & Ranchers

August 1, 2018, 1:07 PM HST (Updated August 1, 2018, 1:07 PM)
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On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, the U.S. Senate passed legislation authored by Sen. Brian Schatz that will help Hawai‘i Island assess the damage the ongoing Kīlauea eruptions has done to farmers and ranchers.

“This is about people’s livelihoods, and it’s about Hawai‘i Island’s agricultural history and way of life,” said Sen. Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “My legislation will help us understand how the ongoing eruptions have hurt agriculture production on the island and what we can do to fix it.”

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The amendment, included in a bipartisan spending package, will help aid the response and recovery effort by instructing the U.S. Department of the Agriculture (USDA) to evaluate the damage the eruptions have caused to agricultural production and rural infrastructure. The legislation also asks USDA to work with state and county officials on how to rebuild and support local farmers and ranchers.

Since eruptions began on May 3, thousands have evacuated, and more than 700 homes and other structures have been destroyed. Lava now covers 12.9 square miles of Hawai‘i Island. While the overwhelming majority of Hawai‘i Island remains a vibrant tourist destination, federal assistance is critical for families and businesses that are in affected communities.

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