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Funding to Assist Community in Volcano Recovery Efforts

October 1, 2018, 3:13 PM HST (Updated October 2, 2018, 2:30 PM)
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Sen. Mazie K. Hirono reported that the Synergistic Hawai‘i Agriculture Council (SHAC) will receive more than $483,000 in federal funding from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to assist farmers impacted by the volcanic activity on Hawai‘i Island.

Sen. Mazie Hirono talks to Puna resident Ikaika Marzo on Sunday, May 20, 2018. PC: BIN

“In July, I met with members of Hawai‘i Island’s floriculture industry whose livelihoods were devastated by the volcanic eruption,” said Sen. Hirono. “They told me that despite the challenges they face, they want to restart their businesses as soon as possible. I am committed to ensuring that Hawai‘i Island’s agriculture community receives the assistance they need as recovery efforts continue.”

The MBDA disaster relief grant will fund the creation of a business recovery hub that will provide assessments, financial planning resources, and marketing and skills training to agricultural businesses who need assistance in returning to production. The funding will also be used to create a central quarantine location to facilitate importation of new seeds and plants material; establish a training center to expand international sales; and set up a baseyard to bring down the costs of materials for individual farmers.

Since the eruption began in May, Sen. Hirono has been a persistent advocate for affected residents. Sen. Hirono wrote to the MBDA in support of the SHAC’s grant application as part of her ongoing advocacy to assist Hawai‘i Island farmers. In June, Sen. Hirono secured a provision in the Senate Farm Bill that would allow volcano-impacted farmers to retroactively apply for coverage under the Non-insured Crop Assistance Program.

Last month, the Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture requesting direct assistance to farmers impacted by volcanic activity and other natural disasters. In July, Sen. Hirono convened a meeting with the Hawai‘i Island floriculture community to hear more about the ongoing challenges they face in recovering from volcanic activity.

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