USDA designates Hawaii County as a primary natural disaster area

MEDIA RELEASE

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has designated Hawaii County in Hawaii as a primary natural disaster area due damages and losses caused by wind, rain and flooding that occurred August 7-9, 2014.

“Our hearts go out to those Hawaii farmers and ranchers affected by recent natural disasters,” 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 Hawaii producers that USDA stands with you and your communities when severe weather and natural disasters threaten to disrupt your livelihood.”

Hawaii County was designated a natural disaster area on September 3, 2014, making all qualified farm operators in the designated areas eligible for low interest emergency (EM) loans from USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. Farmers in Hawaii County 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. FSA has a variety of programs, in addition to the EM loan program, to help eligible farmers recover from adversity.

Producers are encouraged to contact the Hawaii County Office at (808) 933-8368 to make an appointment to avoid long wait times for service.

Additional programs available to assist farmers and ranchers include the Emergency Conservation Program, The Livestock Forage Disaster Program, the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, and the Tree Assistance Program. Interested farmers may contact their local USDA Service Centers for further information on eligibility requirements and application procedures for these and other programs. Additional information is also available online at disaster.fsa.usda.gov.

Schatz announces USDA designation of Hawaii County as natural disaster area



U.S. Sen. Brian Stator announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated Hawaii County as a primary natural disaster area due to damages and losses caused by wind, rain, and flooding from Tropical Storm Iselle. After a review of the Hawaii County Loss Assessment Reports, the USDA determined that there were sufficient agricultural production losses to warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

“Many farmers in Puna are still recovering after suffering devastating crop loss due to Tropical Storm Iselle and they need our help,” Schatz said. “I thank USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack for reviewing the Loss Assessment Reports and for issuing a Secretarial natural disaster designation for Hawai‘i County. Support from the USDA will help ensure that our farmers in Hawaii County will receive the assistance they need.”

A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans. Farmers in eligible counties have 8 months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm, and the security and repayment ability of the operator. So far, FSA has received over 100 inquiries for assistance from producers in Hawaii County.

Gabbard Announces Federal Disaster Assistance for Hawaii Island Farmers Impacted by Hurricane Iselle



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement regarding the declaration of Hawaii County as a primary natural disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Eligible farmers can now apply for certain assistance, including Farm Service Agency emergency loans.

“For our Hawaii Island farmers, this disaster declaration by the USDA opens the door for federal assistance, and is one more step toward a recovering from Hurricane Iselle,” said Gabbard. “In the wake of the denial of a Presidential Disaster Declaration, it is critical that we find alternate sources of support, such as this U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance. I’m pleased that Secretary Vilsack recognized the true extent of damage experienced by our Hawaii Island farmers, and is offering much-needed federal assistance. Our neighbors in Puna, volunteers, utility workers, and local and state agencies are working hard to rebuild and move forward. We must continue to support them however we can throughout the difficult process of recovery.”

Hirono applauds disaster declaration to help Hawaii farmers



Sen. Mazie K. Hirono today applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Secretarial disaster designation for Hawaii County which will allow farmers to access emergency loans in the wake of the destruction caused last month by Tropical Storm Iselle.

“Much of East Hawaii’s agricultural sector including papayas, macadamia, coffee, and the floriculture and nursery industry sustained damage from Tropical Storm Iselle. The most severe loss was to papaya farmers. An estimated 60% of statewide papaya production was devastated. Preliminary assessments indicate that damage and losses due to the storm for papaya farmers is over $50 million. Many of the papaya farmers are small, family operations that did not have catastrophic crop insurance,” said Hirono. “I appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s decision for a natural disaster designation and the work by the Farm Service Agency who initiated the request and has been on the frontlines working with farmers. Federal resources are urgently needed to help our farmers and access to emergency loans is an important option for farmers as they work to recover. I will continue to fight for federal resources to support communities, small businesses and families.”

A Secretarial disaster declaration allows the USDA Farm Service Agency to offer emergency loans to supplement USDA’s other available loan options.

In order to qualify for emergency loans, producers must still meet specific eligibility requirements and meet security requirements as well as demonstrate the ability to repay the loan.

Hirono urges eligible small businesses hurt by Iselle to apply for SBA emergency loans



Sen. Mazie K. Hirono is urging eligible small, nonfarm businesses in Hawaii County that suffered significant economic damage due to Tropical Storm Iselle to apply for newly announced federal emergency loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

This SBA support follows today’s announcement from U.S. Department of Agriculture that provides access to emergency loans for affected area farmers.

“Tropical Storm Iselle caused extensive damage to Hawaii Island companies. Numerous small businesses, not just farmers, are in the rebuilding process. Affected nonfarm business owners now have available low-interest, emergency loans from the SBA,” said Hirono. “The announcements today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration gives businesses in Hawaii County access to financial resources that will help them recover.”

SBA is required by law to make these low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) available once the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture designates an affected area an agricultural disaster. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued such a declaration for Hawaii County earlier today.

According to the SBA, small, nonfarm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private, nonprofit organizations of any size may qualify for EIDLs of up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses which could have been met had the disaster not occurred.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.