September 04, 2014


HONOLULU -- Senator 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.

To read the Secretarial disaster designation letter from USDA Secretary Thomas Vilsack, click here.