Governor, Agriculture believe farmers' compensation is enough - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Governor, Agriculture believe farmers' compensation is enough

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by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - It was last week when Governor Eddie Calvo signed legislation into law that would provide compensation to island farmers for damaged crops. But despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars directed towards farmers, it still has appeared to draw criticism.

A day before Thanksgiving, the governor signed legislation into public law appropriating $450,000 for the compensation to farmers for the Crop Damages Program. The bill was authored by Senator Ben Pangelinan who has since criticized the governor for doing a line-item veto that decreased its amount from the passed $790,000 total appropriation.

"That's more than enough than what is necessary for the claims, so I'm hopeful that the senator will see that we've accomplished the purpose of this bill," he said.

Calvo had line item vetoed the appropriation to adjust the amount from GEDA to $60,000 instead because he felt there are significant resources already available to assist farmers. He said, "Then on top of that, there's $200,000 that we found from a surplus fund to also help our farmers, that's $650,000."

GEDA had opposed the measure because part of the appropriation came from GEDA's bond service fees received through GWA's bond sale that were already earmarked for future operational shortfalls. Senator Pangelinan was unavailable for comment but in a release stated the governor was taking "punitive action against our hardworking farmers", adding, "it is truly ironic that the governor choose to reduce funds to our farmers who drive economic develop and give it to an agency that has specific purpose to support economic development". He has since stated he'll pursue an override of the governor's line item veto.

He said, "I'm hopeful that he's not doing this for destructive purposes just to hurt GEDA which needs this as operating funds 0820 in fact it would even tap into their reserve funds."

Agriculture director Tita Taitague meanwhile supports the governor's actions, saying, "I concur with the Governor because I feel that that amount is sufficient to compensate the farmers for their lost because of the fact that this is not a heavy typhoon like we had with Chataan and Pongsona."

She adds farmers should already be aware and anticipate that heavy rains are expected between September and November. She further does not support any attempt to override the governor's line-item veto adding she understands funding is always limited and there are other needs within the government. So when should farmers expect any kind of cash? She says there's still a process to take into account and just like farmers waiting for crops to grow, asks for their patience.

"I am hoping this week that we will get this money, but that's about 50% of what they're getting and the other 50% will be covered when the legislature appropriate it and put it into our funding," she said.

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