A Big Island farmer whose fields are buried under lava says the state is still requiring him pay off a $22,000 loan on the land, even though he’s not allowed to step foot on the property.
“The state of Hawaii sanctioned me to farm in lava zone 1. They knew I was in lava zone 1. They financed me," said farmer Gregg Adams, who owns Dragon Fruit Farms.
Despite losing everything, Adams says he’s ready to start farming some place new. However, he says a lack of help has made it all but impossible. Adams has gotten a $34,000 from FEMA to help cover the loss of his home, but has gotten nothing to help cover the loss of his farm.
“I lost my home. I lost green houses. I lost packing sheds. I lost all my equipment.” Adams has been farming on Hawaii Island for decades, specializing in dragon fruit and ornamental plants. After the eruption claimed his land, he’s resorted to cleaning dog kennels in exchange for a roof over his head.
In addition to needing special permission from the county, Adams' property is only accessible by crossing a neighbor’s property. Despite that, he continues to pay on his state loan: $364 a month.
“If I stop paying, my credit will be ruined and it’s going to be worse of a disaster than already exists,” he said.
The state Agriculture Department said it understands Adams' situation, but can’t offer much in the way of help. “ If you got a loan from any financial institution you’re required to pay it back. It’s either that or you go out of business and declare bankruptcy,” said Scott Enright, chairman of the state Department of Agriculture.