Deadline extended to help hurricane-hit farmers
By The Star Staff
Agriculture Secretary Ramón González Beiró announced Monday that the application period for the Emergency Program and the Regional Incentives and Investments Program has been extended through the eight agricultural regions in an effort to mitigate agricultural damages and promote continued production.
The deadline will be Nov. 18, and $2 million has been allocated to date.
“For the first time, the Department offers an Emergency Program as comprehensive as this and that includes small farmers,” González Beiró said. “The aid is there, we just need them to apply.”
The official also emphasized that he is working to obtain even more aid with the goal of increasing production and that all components of the agricultural sector will receive the same aid, from the smallest to the largest.
The Emergency Programs, which provide up to a maximum of $10,000 per farmer, are for the leasing of agricultural machinery, so that they can restore access to farms, conduct activities such as cleaning of debris, plowing, drainage, and construction and reconstruction of speed bumps, among others.
The Incentive Program is for agroecological and/or organic farmers, hydroponic and landscaping industry and nursery farmers, and for those who do not have an insurance policy with the Agricultural Insurance Corp., whose subsidy is up to $5,000 per farmer.
Also available is the Emergency Program to Promote Bee Production, which is initially distributing 600 boxes to existing farmers and vouchers so that they can purchase supplements and sugar.
The Agriculture secretary emphasized that the availability of the Emergency Loan Financing Program, which will be granted through the Agricultural Development Innovation Fund (FIDA by its Spanish initials), was recently announced. This financing is aimed at individual farmers, agribusinesses, agricultural cooperatives and value-added companies.
The loan is from $5,000 to $300,000, at an interest rate of four percent. It can be used for items covered by the Emergency Program for Investments, Equipment, Works and Permanent Improvements and other emergency assistance granted by the agricultural regions.
It can also be used for operating capital, purchase of inputs, rehabilitation of structures, non-incentivized equipment and inventory of seeds and animals.
To apply for the loan assistance, farmers must go to one of the eight agricultural regions: Utuado, Lares, Mayagüez, San Germán, Caguas, Naranjito, Ponce or Arecibo. Office hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.