Hawaii farmers are in line to receive millions of dollars in compensation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offset shipping costs. The Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers was initially created as a part of the 2008 Farm Bill. The goal of the RTCP was to reimburse farmers who face extraordinary costs in shipping their products to the mainland. The program encompasses most of the Pacific Rim and Alaska, including Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, and other Pacific and Caribbean U.S. territories.
Hawaii Senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced that Hawaii farmers are eligible to receive part of a $2.6 million aid deal to offset high shipping costs. Part of the need for programs like the RTCP is the high cost of fuel, which drives up shipping costs and raises food prices. Total compensation is determined by calculating the total costs of shipping for farmers and ranchers in a given fiscal year.
Akaka and Inouye played in important role in preserving funding for the RTCP. The last several months have seen Congress cutting spending, focusing particularly heavily on agricultural programs and subsidies. As farm spending has been cut over the past few weeks, many farmers were worried that the RTCP was endangered. However, in part due to the seniority on Inouye and Akaka, RTCP’s money was left intact.
Sign up for the RTCP will begin at the end of July and continue until September 9. Eligible farmers and ranchers need to apply at their local Farm Services Agency office before the September deadline.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer