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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

House passes bills promoting food security, island agriculture

Rep. Jorge Alfredo Rivera Segarra

By The Star Staff

The island House of Representatives passed House Bills (HB) 1101, 1426 and 1427 this week to promote food security and the Puerto Rican farming industry.

New Progressive Party (NPP) lawmakers voted against the bills authored by Popular Democratic Party Rep. Héctor Ferrer Santiago and Jorge Alfredo Rivera Segarra.

“Puerto Rico lacks a public policy to address food security and boost the agricultural industry,” Ferrer Santiago said. “Unfortunately, the NPP delegation fell short in defending Puerto Rican agriculture. However, I am grateful to the colleagues who showed commitment to such an important issue.”

HB 1101 seeks to create salary incentives for micro-farmers, while HB 1426 establishes as commonwealth public policy to strengthen the purchase and production of Puerto Rican agricultural and livestock products. It also would redirect government resources so that those agricultural products are acquired by all the programs that supply prepared and unprepared food to the citizens through government agencies, instrumentalities, and municipalities.

HB 1427, meanwhile, seeks to promote food security by creating the Food Security Advisory Council, which would be attached to the Department of Agriculture.

“The numbers that exist regarding the consumption of local products are alarming, adding to the indifference that has permeated the people in charge of implementing public policy in the government,” Ferrer Santiago said. “These bills are important to begin to address the issue seriously.”

Rivera Segarra stated that he trusts that both the Senate and Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia will allow the three bills to become law and thus promote a responsible and coherent public policy.

“As chairman of the Agriculture Committee, I know that our island is highly vulnerable to a food crisis,” Rivera Segarra said. “The dependence on food imports and [Puerto Rico’s] limited agricultural production is a great threat.”

Puerto Rico produces less than 15% of the food consumed locally, which makes it worthwhile to apply strategies to guarantee sufficient and stable food availability on the island, the legislators said.

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