Big Island farmers get federal relief

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KHNL) -  Voggy conditons on the Big Island have destroyed much of the island's agriculture industry, but the federal government has pledged to help.  Lawmakers recently passed the  2008 Farm Bill.

"This program is designed to help farmers across the island chain.  The most recent example can be found on the Big Island where crops have been destroyed by the ongoing spread of vog," said Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii, who voted in favor of the bill.  "I hope the affected farmers will take advantage of this federal opportunity."

The bill provides disaster coverage to Hawaii farmers who pay a "buy in" fee that caps out at $900.  Otherwise they don't receive federal relief.

Lawmakers believe this will help Hawaii's farming industry.

"On behalf of the many Big Island farmers who have been devastated by the vog, our profound thanks go to Congresswoman Hirono for her untiring efforts to bring some financial relief to these farmers," said Rep. Robert Herkes, D-Hawaii. "The protea and cut flower growers in Ocean View and Wood Valley in particular have been hard hit and this financial relief is espeically welcome and timely."

The fee provides disaster relief for 2008.  It is not crop insurance and it does not provide any other coverage.

The 2008 Farm Bill helps farmers in Hawaii's four largest counties.  The contact information is as follows:

Hawaii County   933- 8381

Kauai County  245-9014

Honolulu County  483-8600

Maui County   871-5500