Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is issuing payments totaling $720,560 to nearly 400 farmers in Puerto Rico through the Reimbursement Transportation Cost Payment Program for Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers.
Over the past three years, Pierluisi has worked to secure appropriations for the RTCP, to ensure that farmers and ranchers in Puerto Rico can receive support.
To date, the island’s farmers and ranchers have received more than 1,600 payments totaling $2.2 million under this program, more than any other participating jurisdiction.
“These funds are essential to our farmers and ranchers, especially given the historic highs in gasoline prices and transportation costs. Farmers outside of the 48 contiguous states face a series of competitive disadvantages in the agricultural market, and the RTCP helps our farmers overcome these disadvantages,” Pierluisi said.
“When our farmers can compete, the health of the American marketplace is improved and our jurisdictions become more food-independent. This year, 370 farmers and ranchers will receive federal payments, and I urge everyone to apply,” he added.
The RTCP was designed to assist farmers and ranchers in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Under the program, farmers and ranchers are eligible to be reimbursed for a portion of the costs they incur to transport an agricultural commodity or an input used to produce an agricultural commodity, subject to an $8,000 cap per producer per fiscal year.
Eligible commodities under the RTCP include any type of agricultural production (including horticulture, aquaculture, and floriculture) defined as food, feed, fiber, livestock, insects and any product thereof.
These commodities are eligible for reimbursement as long as they meet the requirement that the commodity or input in question have been transported 30 miles or more.
The period for farmers to apply for Fiscal 2013 funds is July 22 to Sept. 9. Farmers can obtain their RTCP application at one of the nine Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices in Puerto Rico, or through www.fsa.usda.gov.
Applicants have until Nov. 4, 2013 to show the required documentation, providing evidence of the costs incurred.