PUERTO RICO – The last week of April, representatives from USDA agencies participated in a summit in Puerto Rico to provide local farmers with information needed to access federal aids and other available resources. The event, organized by the University of Puerto Rico, is part of an award granted by USDA for the Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program.
The summit took place in two different locations; Mayaguez on April 23rd, and San Juan on April 25th. At the summit, different agencies with or without representation in Puerto Rico provided information about their different programs and how to request the technical assistance, financial aids or resources needed.
Representatives from the Agricultural Extension Service, the Agricultural Marketing Service, the Food and Nutrition Service, USDA Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and Rural Development, among others, participated in this two-day event that brought farmers from different industries and municipalities in Puerto Rico. There were tables for each USDA Agency, so farmers and ranchers were able to talk to USDA officials individually and/or have any information available for them.
Among the resources available, they highlighted the financial and technical aid for marketing services and expansion of products, help for management plans and forest stewardship, assistance to implement conservation practices for natural resources, availability of different publications and resources like statistics and census, financial aid to establish community food programs, help in the development of infrastructure and energy and rural areas, and technical and financial aid to buy or expand farms and land, and how to protect them.
Approximately 225 farmers attended the summit between the two days, and along with them, local representatives from NGOs, private and government agencies participated, bringing joint efforts to report on, assist and collaborate with local farmers and workers in the industry in Puerto Rico. This effort was brought by the USDA and the University of Puerto Rico in Mayaguez and its College of Agricultural Sciences and the Agricultural Extension Service.