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Help available for Hawaii farmers in need

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019
                                Through Gov. David Ige’s March 4 emergency proclamation, $250,000 from the Agriculture Development and Food Security Special Fund has been made available for qualified farmers who have experienced a disruption to their operations.
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CRAIG T. KOJIMA / 2019

Through Gov. David Ige’s March 4 emergency proclamation, $250,000 from the Agriculture Development and Food Security Special Fund has been made available for qualified farmers who have experienced a disruption to their operations.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture is reviewing applications from local farmers who need financial assistance under the COVID-19 Emergency Farmer Relief Program.

Through Gov. David Ige’s March 4 emergency proclamation, $250,000 from the Agriculture Development and Food Security Special Fund has been made available for qualified farmers who have experienced a disruption to their operations. The relief funds will help farmers who now have an oversupply of agricultural products because businesses and schools are no longer buying them.

“The overwhelming number of requests is an indication on how this crisis is severely impacting Hawaii’s agricultural industries,” Ige said in a news release. “This COVID-19 situation makes us all more appreciative of our local food producers and acutely underscores why increasing our state’s food security has been so very important.”

The HDOA reported that it received 333 applications and over $1.2 million was requested, so the department is reviewing and prioritizing applications.

Individual farming operations can receive up to $2,000 from the program. Nonprofit organizations may apply for up to $10,000 in relief funds. The award process will be completed next week, and funds will be distributed later in April.

“We all need to make sure that our farmers, ranchers and other food producing operations can survive through and eventually recover from this crisis,” said Phyllis Shimabukuro- Geiser, chairwoman of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We ask that Hawaii consumers continue to support our local farmers and food producers through direct and indirect sales at farmers’ markets and community-supported agricultural efforts. Buy local, it matters.”

The HDOA also announced that Ulupono Initiative is contributing $20,000 to help hog farmers who must now purchase feed because food scraps are no longer available from restaurants. The funds came from a grant from the Ulupono Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation.

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