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GEDA to provide assistance to farmers

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by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Calvo Administration is working to provide relief to island's farmers whose crops were devastated from recent heavy rains. And relief is now in sight.

It seems that the call for a state of emergency for farmers who have lost their crops to recent adverse weather is not needed. And the cry for help made by many local farmers has not gone unanswered. Governor Eddie Calvo reassured local farmers such as Ernest Wusstig that relief is on its way, as he told KUAM News, "I think that its great if the governor can really have enough money for all the farmers."

Wusstig says there are over 500 farmers islandwide, adding, "This is a start and I really appreciate the governor for acting on this."

While Senator Rory Respicio sent a letter to the governor today showing his concern, it appears the Governor's Office is one step ahead, with deputy press secretary Phil Leon Guerrero saying, "This issue has been taken up by Senator [Aline] Yamashita and Governor Calvo for a couple of weeks they have been talking to the farming community and it looks like we have a solution and that's why an emergency declaration isn't needed at this time."

That solution: $500,000. During talks with the farming community and the Department of Agriculture, Governor Calvo and Senator Yamashita worked together to identify GEDA as the agency to make it happen.  "We talked to GEDA administrator Henry Taitano and he worked really quickly get to make sure that we can get a brand new program offering assistance to our farmers up and running," he said.

According to Taitano, a special board meeting will be held on November 6. "We were asked by the Governor Calvo to put together a special board meeting to provide emergency assistance to farmers. I am also taking that opportunity to get a better understanding of the industry and what they are going through right now," he said.

He adds that their role is to work with the Department of Agriculture focusing on two priorities - first to provide the immediate emergency assistance needed by farmers and second to provide long term assistance to farmers in planning for emergencies such as this.

The special GEDA board meeting is next Wednesday at 6:30 in the morning at their office in the ITC Building in Tamuning.

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