U.S. Farm Credit Administration officials are on the island week to take a look at the agriculture industry and hold a series of meetings with Puerto Rico government officials to discuss the state of policies and lending programs that impact local farmers and producers. The visit is the result of a joint effort between the Agriculture Department and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, the agencies announced Wednesday.
FCA Chairman Leland A. Strom, who is making his first trip to the island, is heading the delegation from Washington. After meeting today with Agriculture Secretary Javier Rivera Aquino, the group will visit five farms in the Coamo, Santa Isabel, Adjuntas, Arecibo, and Manati municipalities Thursday to see Puerto Rico’s fruit and vegetable, coffee, milk, and poultry industries first-hand.
The delegation will meet Friday with the Puerto Rico Farm Credit Association, an FCA subsidiary.
“It is key for our industry that we cultivate a strong working relationship with FCA to ensure the best policies and robust lending programs are available to our local producers,” said Rivera-Aquino. “The chairman‘s visit is important and timely to ensure Puerto Rico’s agriculture industry needs are taken into account as the FCA develops future policies.”
The FCA delegation also includes Michael Stokke, Director of Congressional and Public Affairs, and Roger Paulson, Director of Risk Supervision.
“Our goal was to design a productive agenda that will ultimately benefit our farmers and producers by providing top officials at FCA with key insights about the needs of Puerto Rico’s agriculture industry,” said PRFAA’s Executive Director Nicole Guillermard.
FCA is an independent federal agency responsible for examining and regulating the Farm Credit System, a government-sponsored enterprise created by Congress in 1916 to provide the U.S. agriculture industry with a dependable source of credit.
The agency is the largest agricultural lender in the country, serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The FCS provides credit and other services to agricultural producers and farmer-owned cooperatives.
The visit is in line with the local Agriculture Department’s goal of shoring up more financing for struggling local farmers, for which the agency is also approaching the island’s private banking sector.