Farmers, ranchers to receive $2.3M to offset shipping costs

WASHINGTON — Farmers and ranchers in Hawai‘i and the Pacific Rim will receive $2.6 million in payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help compensate for the high cost of getting their product to market on the Mainland, Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka announced recently.

The Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers (RTCP), provides payments intended to offset a portion of the costs of transporting agricultural products and inputs over long distances, a news release states.

The RTCP was created by Inouye and authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

“Farmers and ranchers in Hawai‘i 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. 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 Inouye.

 “This program helps to sustain agriculture in Hawai‘i and the Pacific territories, an important part of our economy that provides jobs, sustainability, and a greener environment. I encourage Hawai‘i’s farmers and ranchers to take full advantage of this program,” said Senator Akaka.

The program assists farmers and ranchers in Alaska, Hawai‘i, and insular areas including the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Virgin Islands of the United States, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Republic of Palau, the release states.

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, subject to an $8,000 per producer cap per fiscal year.

Fiscal year 2010 payments to geographically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers approved for RTCP benefits began Wednesday. 

Sign-up for fiscal year 2011 RTCP began Monday and ends on Sept. 9.

Applicants must file their RTCP application for benefits with their local Farm Service Agency county office no later than Sept. 9, the release states.

Applicants will have until Nov. 4 to provide supporting documentation of actual costs of transporting agricultural inputs and commodities in fiscal year 2011 to the FSA county office.

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