In response to the recent high winds and wildfires that have devastated parts of Maui and Hawai‘i Island, the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) is set to launch an emergency agricultural loan program. This initiative aims to provide financial relief to the affected farmers and ranchers in the region.
The Emergency Proclamation, issued by Acting Gov. Sylvia Luke on Aug. 8, 2023, has paved the way for the Hawai‘i Board of Agriculture (Board) to activate this emergency loan scheme. The specifics of the loan, including the maximum loan amount and interest rate, will be discussed and finalized at the Board’s meeting later this month.
Farmers and ranchers adversely affected by the wildfires are encouraged to contact the HDOA’s Agricultural Loan Program on O‘ahu at (808) 973-9458. This will give them more details about the low-interest agricultural emergency loans and kickstart the application process. Applicants must furnish estimates of their losses and support their claims with photographic evidence of the damage.
Sharon Hurd, the chairperson of the Board, emphasized the situation’s urgency. “While damage estimates may take some time to assess fully, we urge agricultural operations impacted by the wildfires to contact us now if they believe they may need financial assistance,” she stated. Hurd also mentioned that the HDOA is collaborating with the U.S. Farm Service Agency to assist in damage assessments and potentially secure additional federal aid for this calamity.
For agribusinesses needing smaller loans, precisely $50,000 or below, the HDOA offers micro-loans. These loans come with the advantage of requiring less paperwork and promise a faster processing time.
It’s worth noting that the HDOA is already managing an emergency loan program designed to aid farmers and ranchers grappling with the challenges posed by the overpopulation of axis deer.