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Business is drying up for one Maui farm ravaged by drought and droves of deer

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Business is drying up for one Maui farm ravaged by drought and droves of deer

On top of battling the ongoing drought and herds of deer damaging her crops, Nui Mizel of Maui Nui Farm in Kula Maui is still reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic. 

"We are short on supply, not only that, we don't have the market, the COVID-19 slow me down," Mizel said, whose wholesale business lost buyers due to COVID. 

Drier conditions are taking a toll on Mizel's vegetables -- production is down 70 percent among her lettuce, kale,  and cabbage. 

Mizel called Maui's nearly three-year-long battle with drought unprecedented. 

"Really bad," Mizel added. "We don't have bad like that for, I farm here for 30 years already, this property, we never had like that before."

The National Integrated Drought Information System reported the dry weather is impacting 74 percent of Maui residents.

Earlier this week, the state declared a disaster emergency relief period for the county because of the drought, the second time since January 2020. 

State Sen. Lynn DeCoite said the proclamation allows government officials to override some rules to kickstart infrastructure repairs and frees up funding to do so. 

However, securing the money to address the emergency is proving a challenge, DeCoite added, because funds in the Dept. of Agriculture have dried up. 

"The barrel tax of the Dept. of Ag had been taken away, which makes it really difficult for funds, but we are looking at other funds, hopefully, to come from other departments as well as the County of Maui," DeCoite said. 

DeCoite is still waiting to hear back on her request for federal funding. 

Maui County Councilmember Yuki-Lei Sugimura, who represents one of the hardest-hit parts of the Valley Isle, said she is planning to meet with Mayor Michael Victorino next Monday to discuss solutions.