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Nearly $500K in federal funds will help Hawaii farmers rebuild

Nina Wu
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Organic papaya at the Makuu Farmer’s Market in Pahoa in June.

A non-profit called the Synergistic Hawaii Agriculture Council (SHAC) will receive more than $483,000 in federal funding to assist farmers impacted by the volcanic activity on Hawaii island, according to U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono.

SHAC, founded by the Hawaii Papaya Industry Association, the Hawaii Coffee Association, and the Hawaii Floriculture and Nursery Association, represents more than 500 businesses from Hilo to Hanalei.

The Minority Business Development Agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce is offering the funds to create a business recovery hub, which would offer financial planning resources, marketing and skills training and land replacement strategies to help agricultural businesses return to production.

The funds are also expected to create a central quarantine location for the importation of new seeds and plants, a training center to expand international sales, and a baseyard to bring down the costs of materials for individual farmers.

Hirono said she has advocated for federal assistance for Hawaii island farmers since the eruption began in May through letters of support and legislation.

“In July, I met with members of Hawaii island’s floriculture industry whose livelihoods were devastated by the volcanic eruption,” said Hirono in a news release. “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 Hawaii island’s agriculture community receives the assistance they need as recovery efforts continue.”

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