Farmers lock down permanence of tax incentives
The elimination of certain farming incentives proposed in a pair of measures will not come to fruition as a result of the Puerto Rico Farm Bureau’s lobbying efforts at La Fortaleza, the trade organization said Tuesday.
House Bill 3416 and Senate Bill 2185 sent farmers scrambling, as they sought to eliminate the agricultural tax incentive effective 2016, Bureau President Ramón González said Tuesday.
“The Agricultural Tax Incentives Law is what has prevented the collapse of the Puerto Rican agriculture, without this law it is impossible to sustain an economically viable agriculture,” said González, met with Gov. Luis Fortuño last week to advocate on behalf of the farming sector.
During the meeting, the farmers cited the governor’s political platform, which called for protecting the agriculture sector, González said.
House Speaker Jennifer González filed House Bill 3416 in May, seeking to limit tax benefits provided by several existing laws, including one related to agriculture. However, the bill was pulled upon Fortuño’s request, as per a letter sent to the lawmaker on June 13.
“It’s amazing how, as an island, and considering the global situation that exists regarding farming and food limitation, [someone] has sought to eliminate benefits given to farmers, giving the impression that one thing is what is said and another what is done,” González said. “What should be done is encourage more people to join the agricultural sector and not eliminate the few incentives we have.”
Puerto Rico’s farming sector contributes about $790 million of the island’s Gross Domestic Product, with dairy products, plantains and poultry production accounting for a significant portion of that amount. During fiscal year 2009, local farmers received about $57 million in local and federal incentives and subsidies, Agriculture Department statistics show.