Governor Cuomo announces agricultural partnerships between New York and Puerto Rico
The Governor pledged to help Puerto Rico rebuild their agriculture and food supply systems, and work with local farmers, the University of Puerto Rico, and other partners to provide technical assistance and expertise to rebuild the industry.
Ten months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, agricultural trade between New York and Puerto Rico is rapidly growing with the expansion of New York-grown apples, cabbages, and onions into Puerto Rico and watermelon, mangoes, and pumpkins grown in Puerto Rico becoming available in New York.
Conservative estimates say these agricultural trade opportunities will exceed well over $1 million in economic benefit to both New York and Puerto Rico.
The Governor made the announcement while in Puerto Rico leading a delegation of SUNY and CUNY presidents and students, as well as nonprofit partners, labor leaders, and elected officials, to support the ongoing efforts on the island.
This trip marks the Governor's fifth trip to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricanes Maria and Irma, and part of the third deployment of SUNY and CUNY student volunteers since the initiative began.
As established in the Build Back Better report assessing the hurricane damage, Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely impacted Puerto Rico's agricultural sector, primarily made up of small, family-owned farms, with approximately 80 percent of the crop value destroyed, a loss of nearly $250 million to the Puerto Rico economy.
The destruction of planted crops caused a loss of locally grown foods, limiting nutritional options, driving up food costs and contributing to food insecurity. In addition, over 2.2 million animals were lost to the storm and the agricultural infrastructure experienced damages in excess of $1.8 billion. This represents 40 percent of the total value.
As with Puerto Rico's other rebuilding efforts, New York State is committed to helping Puerto Rico rebuild their agriculture and food supply systems stronger than before. ■