Farmers Say They’ve Been Denied Input into USVI Agriculture Plan


Outcomes of a survey of V.I. farmers by the Agriculture Process Strain. (Display shot)

The V.I. Agriculture Process Strain launched An affect Level plan, ordered by the V.I. Legislature, to maintain and enhance the enterprise, however farmers say they Weren’t consulted Regarding their wants And ideas To assist their livelihoods.

On Friday, farmers requested The obligation force for an extension To permit them to have extra enter.

“We humbly ask for the creation of a task force sub-committee comprised of farmers from every island to consider every part of the plan as quickly as a draft copy Might be made out there from the Ag Plan task force. We request a minimal Of two-3 weeks to consider the draft plan, and to advocate amendments, revisions and additions to the plan,” Nate Olive of Ridge to Reef Farms, wrote to the Supply.

Olive May even be involved Inside the V.I. Farmers Alliance and the Territorial Agriculture Group and wrote on the group’s behalf.

The Supply met Wednesday and Thursday with a quantity of farmers and their assisters To converse Regarding their considerations. The Territorial Agriculture Group is comprised of Greater than two dozen stakeholders striving To deal with farmers’ wants and advance the enterprise.

The Agriculture task force was charged by the Senate and Act 8404, To incorporate “coverage and funding advocateations to assist and increase the native meals system.”

There have been seven challenges The obligation force was To incorporate Inside the plan, Similar to enterprise fashions, hiring a meals and farm coordinator, Making a fund and an advisory committee, and creating a mannequin and Education schemes. Additionally they have been charged with amassing knowledge and assessing the progress of rising the enterprise.

The agricultural group attended all three of the agriculture task force’s metropolis hall conferences both almost or in particular person. David Hall, president of the College of the Virgin Islands, and Agriculture Commissioner Constructive T.A. Nelson, chairs of The obligation force, ran the conferences and converseed Regarding the work they have been doing, collectively with public surveys. In every meeting, they said they wanted extra suggestions from the farmers.

However, By way of the Sept. 23 metropolis hall meeting, digital particular persons have beenn’t In a place To converse with The obligation force. Solely these in attendance have been In a place to ask questions. Browne said it was “Sort of a censoring” and Delivered to the forefront completely different factors.

The meals producers have a quantity of grievances Regarding The tactic of creating the Ag plan, particularly the absence of a farmer on The obligation force.

“A task force has been chosen, however that task force doesn’t have any farmers on it. To have a farmer on the board would have been a bias state of affairs, we have been informed,” Browne said.

Ancompletely different grievance was the survey information recorded by The obligation force. Browne Recognized they only tabulated about 25 % (169) of the Greater than 600 developers Inside the territory. Since 80 % of the respondents said they have been “yard farmers,” the survey wasn’t A exact illustration of the farming group, Browne said.

A Website from the Agriculture Process Strain’s plan for V.I. Farmers with suggestions from farmers. (Display shot)

When The obligation force introduced the plan was ready, the developers requested for A duplicate a in time to consider it and ask questions. Instead, farmers have been e-mailed A duplicate on Monday and requested to consider it by the Friday metropolis hall meeting. Farmers harvest and put together on Friday for farmers’ markets on Saturdays Browne and completely differents said.

St. Thomas farmer Royce Creque of Greenridge Guavaberry Farms said most St. Thomas farmers Weren’t even Aware of a survey. He said the Agriculture Division has contact information for all of them.

“I used to be current On the metropolis hall and went over the doc. The suggestions that I get, from You understand, the farmers Regionally, Is that they didn’t know Regarding the survey. Not all farmers have e-mails or have entry to internet. They want mail or a go to. No mail, no go to,” he said. “The overwhelming majority of them Have not seen the survey. Have not acquired a go to from anyone, which Is simple – You only come Proper down to the market and converse to all of them On The identical time.”

Creque said farmers exactly feel insulted thOn there Are not any farmers on The obligation force, although three have been referred to as for in Act 8404. Furtherextra, the Farmer’s Advisory Board was not consulted all through The tactic, he said.

“All I see with their plan Immediately’s UVI getting rich. Pushing The varsity of Agriculture,” he said.

Sommer Sibilly-Brown, of V.I. Good Food Coalition, converseed about biggest practices for group engagement. She agreed with completely different criticisms. She additionally Recognized thOn the plan doesn’t embrace fishers or ranchers who would give a extra properly rounded view of the enterprise.

“You will Have The power to’t develop one factor for Individuals with out people, Sibilly-Brown said. “Farmers’ successes attracts completely differents to the enterprise.”

Earlier than Friday’s metropolis hall, the agriculture group despatched an e-mail requesting extra time before the plan is launched to the Legislature. After the three hour meeting Friday, they said they exactly feel Just like the listening to Might Even be delayed, for A quick time, A minimal of.

“We now Need To place Barely pause on this and embrace farmers,” Creque said.

The completely differents who met with the Supply have been St. Thomas farmer Shelli Brin and Benita Martin of We develop Food.