Guam - Following a farmers roundtable Thursday, legislation aimed at providing compensation to farmers went up for public hearing today. Department of Agriculture director Tita Taitague supported Bill 223, saying the recent storm resulted in the biggest loss for farmers last experienced almost a decade ago.
"An initial survey shows that the farmers on Guam have estimated value of loss in their agricultural production over $450,000 with several farmers having a loss of some $30,000," she explained.
GEDA acting administrator Christina Garcia meanwhile supported the bill's intent but opposed its use of bond service fees from the Guam Waterworks Authority's bond sale as the funding source. She said, "In dealing with unrestricted funds, GEDA management has taken the approach that these funds be preserved to maintain and address future operational shortfalls to ensure GEDA meets and fulfills is statutory mandates."
She adds the GEDA board had approved a special loan program earlier this month to provide up to $20,000 to each qualified farmer through the Agricultural Development Fund. Bill 223 introduced by Senator Ben Pangelinan would appropriate $400,000 for the compensation to farmers for the Crop Damages Program, which has gone years without funding.