Maui News

New Round of Federal Funds Available for Hawaii Farmers

July 21, 2011, 3:25 PM HST
* Updated July 22, 7:17 AM
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By Wendy Osher

Ulu (breadfruit) grove in Hana, Maui. Photo by Wendy Osher.

Farmers in Hawaii will have the opportunity to apply for federal funds to help offset shipping costs.  An estimated $2.6 million is being issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to farmers and ranchers in Hawaii and the Pacific Rim who are geographically disadvantaged.

The funds are intended to compensate for the high cost of getting products to market on the Mainland.  The sign-up period for this year’s program begins on July 25, 2011.

The Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program (RTCP) was created by Senator Inouye and authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

“Farmers and ranchers in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific Rim are at a competitive disadvantage when it comes time to take their products to market in the contiguous continental United States and around the world,” said U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye.

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“I am pleased that this program provides some compensation to those in the Pacific who are working hard to make a living off the land while providing food for our communities, the nation, and the world” said Sen. Inouye.

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RTCP benefits are calculated based on the amount of costs incurred by the producer for transportation of the agricultural commodity or inputs during a fiscal year.  The benefits are also subject to an $8,000 per producer cap per fiscal year.

“This program helps to sustain agriculture in Hawaii and the Pacific territories, an important part of our economy that provides jobs, sustainability, and a greener environment. I encourage Hawaii’s farmers and ranchers to take full advantage of this program,” said U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who joined his colleague in making the funding announcement today.

Fiscal year 2010 payments began on July 20, 2011.  Sign-up for fiscal year 2011 RTCP begins on Monday, July 25, 2011, and ends on Sept. 9, 2011.  Applications must be submitted respective local Farm Service Agency county offices before the deadline.  Applicants will have until Nov. 4, 2011, to provide supporting documentation of actual costs incurred.

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For more information visit: www.fsa.usda.gov/pricesupport.

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