Volcanic pollution from active volcano vents on the island of Hawaii has taken such a toll on crops and ag products that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated the Big Island a primary natural disaster area Nov. 24th because of losses farmers suffered from volcanic emissions this year.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said today that he and President Barack Obama understand the emissions from Kilauea volcano caused serious harm to farms.
Vilsack says the designation will provide help to hundreds of farmers who suffered significant production losses in the cut flower and fresh produce industries.
The action makes qualified farm operators eligible for low-interest emergency loans.
A report from the University of Hawaii: titled HAWAII’S VOLCANIC ERUPTION–IMPACTS ON HAWAII AGRICULTURE stated that
“Although the Kilauea volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, a new vent began emitting large quantities of ash and volcanic gases in March 2008. Depending on wind direction and speed, these emissions blow to and concentrate in certain locations causing major losses to many horticultural crops. Proteas, other cut flowers, and vegetables are especially hard hit with some farms experiencing 100% losses. Long term survivals of protea plants if the volcano continues are uncertain. Ranchers also have concerns about potential damage to grazing lands, infrastructure and potential toxic effects of fluorine on cattle as it accumulates in forage plants. We propose to develop best practices to mitigate SO2 damage disaster preparedness materials, conduct workshops, and educate producers. Partner with other state agencies to establish a network of SO2 monitoring stations to assist in predicting and reacting to damaging SO2 levels.”