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Hirono pushing for bill that would assist farmers affected by Kilauea eruption

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U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono said she added a provision in the 2018 Senate Farm Bill that would allow volcano-impacted farmers to retroactively apply for coverage under the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program.

The bipartisan Farm Bill, which sets policy and funding levels for agriculture and nutrition programs through 2023, was approved Thursday by an 86-11 vote in the Senate. The bill now moves to a conference committee to reconcile differences with the House Farm Bill that was passed last week.

“The ongoing volcanic activity on Hawaii island has had a devastating impact on local agricultural producers,” said Hirono in a news release. “The provision I successfully included in this year’s farm bill will provide much needed relief to our agricultural community.”

“This Senate Farm Bill supports many programs that are critical to Hawaii farmers and growers, and I will continue to fight for Hawaii as we move to conference, by working to advance this and other important provisions as the bill is reconciled with the deeply flawed and partisan House bill.”

NAP, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, provides assistance to producers of non-insurable crops, including papaya, leafy greens, floriculture and aquaculture in the event that natural disasters destroy crops, reduce yield, or prevent planting.

Under Hirono’s floor amendment, eligible producers suffering losses from volcanic activity will be able to access up to $125,000 in assistance even if they had not previously signed up for NAP coverage for the 2018 crop year.

The bill also establishes a payment limit of $125,000 for catastrophic coverage and $300,000 for additional coverage within NAP for future policies, according to Hirono.

Hirono also teamed up with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) to include an amendment to the bill that would provide small grants for individuals, food banks, schools and other nonprofits to promote food security and fresh food for local communities throughout Hawaii.

MORE KILAUEA COVERAGE
>> Pahoa women provide comfort and support to their neighbors
>> Planned lava-viewing area might not be close to Puna, Ige says
>> Home destruction mounts in Lower Puna
>> State ready to offer financial support, but Hawaii County has to ask
>> World Central Kitchen helps ensure quality meals available for evacuees
>> Kilauea emissions affect Malama Ki Forest reserve
>> Lava blocks access to favorite Hawaii island shoreline sites
>> Volcanic activity destroying marine and forest preserves
>> State leaders should be devising plans now to help volcano-affected businesses recover
>> Charter school co-founder looks to future after eruption
>> Closed voting sites and early absentee ballots raise concerns in Puna
>> Hula conference, chants to Pele coincide with the eruption
>> Lava output far outpaces previous eruptions
>> For National Guard, lava disaster presents real-world mission
>> Scientists monitoring renewed fissure activity

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