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DOA declares natural disaster for drought in Maui, Hawai’i counties

Casey Harlow / HPR

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a primary natural disaster for Maui and Hawai’i counties for its persistent drought conditions.

The designation will allow farmers and farm operations in both counties to apply for federal emergency loans and other eligible Farm Service Agency assistance.

In an April 8 letter to Gov. David Ige, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack pointed to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which shows portions of Maui and Hawai'i Island are under "extreme drought" conditions that have persisted for at least eight weeks.

In late March, Ige signed a disaster declaration for Maui related to the drought focusing on axis deer who have moved from their normal foraging grounds to more populated areas to find food sources. That proclamation is in effect through May 20.

Local Farm Service Agency office can aid farmers in eligibility and applying for emergency drought loans through Dec. 8, which is eight months since the official declaration.

“FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator,” Vilsack wrote in the April 8 letter.

Sabrina Bodon was Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter.
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