Recovery efforts continue in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria, which struck nearly a year ago and could change where some of our food comes from in the future. Micheal Clements has more.
Clements: The bulk of the recovery effort from last year’s Hurricane Maria will take time for Puerto Rico farmers, according to Puerto Rico Farm Bureau President Hector Cordero-Toledo. He says some sectors of agriculture within Puerto Rico may take even ten years or more, to fully recover.
Cordero: If we looked to special crops, like coffee, coffee is a special crop in Puerto Rico and is special sector in agriculture, the reality is to get back what the coffee industry was before Maria, it could take maybe 10 or 12 years.
Clements: Jose Lopez, Puerto Rico Farm Bureau director of program development, says agriculture was growing when Hurricane Maria struck.
Lopez: We were experiencing new farmers and they invested a lot of money into agriculture in Puerto Rico. Many of these projects were going to experience their first harvest in 2017. A percentage of them said, ok, I can’t go any longer because I have no where else to get funds from. But many of them, they rolled up their sleeves and they went back to the farm.
Clements: Signup for USDA’s 2017 Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program is promising for farmers in Puerto Rico. Lopez says the recovery and growth effort on the island could change the landscape of purchasing food in the United States in the future.
Lopez: There’s great potential to supply the other 50 states with products that you guys are also currently having to import from Central and South America, so why don’t just buy from your brother and sister Americans from the island of Puerto Rico. So, we have a recovery, growth, and then, we can produce, let’s supply.
Clements: Micheal Clements. Washington.