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

Nina Wu

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.

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