OCTOBER 19, 2020, US Virgin Islands – As a result of the economic crisis associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) in conjunction with the Office of Senator Allison DeGazon, has secured $100,000.00 to support local farmers. This economic impact payment is designed to support farmers as they continue to supply our local economy with fresh local produce at locations such as markets, school lunch programs, hospitals, senior citizen facilities, etc.
Interested Farmers will need to submit a “2020 COVID-19 Farmer Stimulus Application” to a cashier inside VIDA offices or via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org by November 25, 2020 at 11:59pm AST.
Late applications or those with missing information will not be considered or accepted. Please be sure to include copies of your 2018/2019 DCLA & VIDA Farm Licenses and Harvest Reports as requested.
How does it work/who qualifies for the farmers stimulus check?
Any farmer who has been licensed with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for the last 2 years and whose farms are currently in production will qualify for this payment.
What is the amount each farmer will receive?
Each qualified farmer will be mailed a one-time stimulus payment from the Department of Agriculture. The final payment amount will be divided equally among the qualified farmers.
When will payment be received?
Payments are anticipated by the end of January 2021.
Is the money yours, free and clear?
Yes, this is not a loan and you do not have to repay the Department of Agriculture.
All questions about this application can be submitted to email@example.com or via phone at (340) 778-0997, on St. Croix; (340) 774-5182, on St. Thomas; or (340) 776-6274, on St. John.
In accordance with 44 CFR §9.8 for Executive Orders 11988 & 11990
Proposed Wind Resiliency Retrofit
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Notification is hereby given to the public of the intent of the Department of Homeland Security- Federal Emergency Management Agency (DHS-FEMA) to provide federal funding to the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, St. Thomas, USVI, as subrecipient for the proposed retrofitting of a USDA-monitored slaughterhouse, food storage and animal testing facility through the Pre- Disaster Mitigation Competitive (PDMC) Grant Program. The purpose of the PDMC Grant Program is to reduce overall risk to the population and structures from future hazard events, while also reducing reliance on federal funding in future disasters. This notification is given in accordance with Executive Order (EO) 11988 (Floodplain Management), Executive Order (EO) 11990 (Protection of Wetlands), Federal Coastal Zone Management Act, and 44 CFR Part 9, regulations for implementing EO 11988-11990.
The proposed mitigation project is for the St. Thomas Abattoir (slaughterhouse) located at Estate Nadir, Bovoni Road, St. Thomas, USVI 00802 (18.32012, -64.87805). The scope of work includes the installation of wind-rated louvered windows, wind-rated entry doors, and roof straps as well as the strapping and anchoring of exterior electrical and mechanical equipment. Also included in the scope of work is an analysis of the building’s continuous load path (CLP) with additional hardening measures to follow as needed to improve the structure’s wind load capacity.
This action would take place within the 100-year floodplain. Alternatives considered include: 1) taking no action 2) relocating the structure, or 3) the proposed alternative, which is hardening at its current location. FEMA has determined that hardening the structure at its current location is the most practicable alternative to ensure the facility and its occupants are out of harm’s way. FEMA has also determined that investment of funds to reduce the risk of structural failure in the face of an extreme wind event is in the public interest. Potential impacts to water quality or aquatic habitat are anticipated to be temporary during construction and minimized through best management practices and conservation measures incorporated from resource agency recommendations and required regulatory permits.
Comments about this project, potential alternatives, and floodplain impacts may be submitted in writing within 15 days of the date of this publication to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency – Region II – Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation, Mitigation Division, One World Trade Center, Suite 53, New York, NY 10007 or via email to FEMAR2COMMENT@fema.dhs.gov. If substantive comments are received, FEMA will evaluate and address the comments as part of the environmental documentation for this project.
AUGUST 27, 2020, US Virgin Islands – When Governor Albert Bryan, Jr. issued his Stay at Home Order effective August 17, 2020 that closed all non-essential businesses, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) remained open as an ESSENTIAL BUSINESS due to our participation in the local production of food; a matter of national security. Our employees have continued to diligently show up to work and committed themselves to the our goal of increasing food sovereignty in the Virgin Islands. We thank our employees for taking this threat seriously and thriving despite the circumstances.
As a token of appreciation to our employees for their hard work and dedication in ensuring the continuation of operations at the VIDA during this challenging time, we will be granting all employees two additional days off for Labor Day Weekend. As such, the VIDA will be closed Friday, September 4, 2020 through Tuesday, September 8, 2020. We will reopen on Wednesday, September 9, 2020 for business.
For more information on the department, please visit our website at https://doa.vi.gov or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
AUGUST 25, 2020, US Virgin Islands – In the past year, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) in conjunction with the UVI Cooperative Extension Service Environmental Health and Climate Team, successfully applied for and became a part of the US Drought Monitor which shows the location and intensity of droughts across the United States and its Territories. This became extremely important when the US Virgin Islands experienced a drought beginning in April 2020 which did not abate as expected in May and has continued with minimal relief.
This designation (its first for the St. Thomas-St. John district), qualifies the Virgin Islands for the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) through the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) which offers payments to eligible livestock producers and grazed forage crop acreage. These payments can help cover up to 60% of monthly feed costs, which is calculated by using the normal carrying capacity of the grazing land. Herein lies another opportunity for assistance for farmers to access funding. Please utilize it for your benefit.
To be eligible for LFP, persons or legal entities must be registered with the USDA FSA; a U.S. citizen, resident alien, partnership of U.S. citizens, a legal entity organized under State law, or an Indian tribe or tribal organization defined in the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act that:
- Own, cash or share lease, or be a contract grower of covered livestock during the 60 calendar days before the beginning date of a qualifying drought.
- Provide pastureland or grazing land for covered livestock, including cash-rented pastureland or grazing land as of the date of the qualifying drought that is:
- Physically located in a county affected by a qualifying drought during the normal grazing period for the county
- Certify that they have suffered a grazing loss because of a qualifying drought; and
- Timely file an acreage report for all grazing land for which a grazing loss is being claimed.
This benefit will be distributed to farmers beginning around July 21, 2020. For more information on the timeline of assistance, broken down by island, please see the chart below.
|Island||Drought Category||You may get assistance payments equal to:|
|St. Croix||D3 (extreme drought)||Four months|
|St. Thomas||D2 (severe drought)||One month|
|St. John||D3 (extreme drought)||Four months|
VIDA would like to thank US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett for their assistance in securing this funding.
July 10, 2020, US Virgin Islands – The Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) is inviting livestock farmers to attend a meeting on Friday, July 17th, 2020 from to 6 to 7 p.m. at the St. Croix Abattoir located at #1 Estate Lower Love. The purpose of the meeting is to inform farmers about new procedures at the abattoir including compliance with USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) standards, scheduling & operational procedures, humane animal transport, farmer’s form completion, payment for services, and processed meat pickup procedures. VIDA’s Veterinary Services division will also provide an update on livestock services and support available to farmers.
To mitigate COVID-19 concern, social distancing will be instituted, and all attendees are required to wear face masks.
VIDA’s Division of Abattoir Services is a red meat production establishment that receives cattle, sheep, goats and pigs for slaughtering. These carcasses as well as by-products are processed for general public consumption and sold to retail and wholesale outlets, in compliance with USDA FSIS guidelines. Carcasses are shipped by refrigerated truck or insulated container as appropriate.
Of note, the St. Thomas Abattoir is also finalizing its facility repair and will undergo a separate review of USDA FSIS compliance analysis and an update to documentation immediately upon the opening of the St. Croix Abattoir, to expedite reopening.
We here at VIDA would like to thank the public for their patience while we made the necessary repair and updates to better serve our community and increase our local food security.
For more information on the July 17th, Abattoir Facility Use Meeting contact VIDA on St. Croix at (340) 778-0997 or visit our website at http://doa.vi.gov.
JULY 14, 2020, US Virgin Islands – Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the territory the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture will be curtailing hours, effective immediately to limit exposure and promote the safety and well-being of our employees, customers, and the Virgin Islands community at-large.
VIDA will modify business hours effective Monday, July 13, 2020 to be open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm. This will provide critical support of our community’s effort to increase food production. We encourage our customers and farmers to limit visits to our offices unless purchasing seedlings, feed, or other agricultural supplies on those days.
For documents requiring signature: Please deliver them to the office on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday and the documents will be returned to you on the following open business day.
Otherwise, most required forms or documents are available on our website at https://doa.vi.gov or they can be emailed directly to you. For more information, please email us at email@example.com.
For inquiries outside of these hours, please contact us at (340) 778-0997, on St. Croix; (340) 774-5182, on St. Thomas; or (340) 776-6274, on St. John. Visitors to our offices will be required to maintain our social distancing policy of six (6) feet at all times.
Veterinary Services are essential and on-going, please contact Dr. Bethany Bradford at (340) 642-7320 or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will continue to sanitize and maintain markets that have been officially reopened by VIDA. Please be reminded that masks are mandatory for vendors and patrons.
In these anxious and uncertain times, we urge our community members to keep safety in mind, as we at VIDA continue to serve in our mission to develop, support, and promote an economically lucrative agricultural industry in the US Virgin Islands while protecting consumers, farmers, and the environment.
UPDATED August 25, 2020, US Virgin Islands – The Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) invites community members to a discussion regarding the regulations for livestock owners in the Territory on June 30, 2020 at 5:30 pm. This virtual meeting was held via Zoom.
This meeting is the first step in educating farmers on pertinent livestock regulations and enforcing with law. VIDA will be working with farmers and community members to follow best practices for raising healthy animals and producing a safe and wholesome food product. We will specifically cover the following subsections in preparation for enforcement:
- Proper feeding and care:
- Owners are responsible for providing the proper feed, shelter, water, and veterinary care for their animals at all times.
- Stray animals:
- “(1) that animals straying on public highways and other places private or public, constitute a danger to the public health, safety and convenience, are destructive of property, increase traffic hazards and expose such animals to inhumane suffering.”
- Identification and registration of animals:
- “(a)No person shall own, keep or harbor any donkey, horse, mule, sheep, cattle, hog, or goat, two months old or older, unless such animal is branded, tagged, [micro-chipped,] or tattooed …”
- “(a) Any animal found running at large, or tied on public property, or on private property without the consent of the owner of the property, shall be taken up by animal wardens …”
June 8, 2020, US Virgin Islands – The Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) is urging farmers to practice water and soil conservation practices. The benefits of which are increased yields per unit of land, better production per unit of labor, and improved reliability of yields. We encourage farmers to utilize VIDA’s Conservation & Forestry programs or contact UVI’s Cooperative Extension Service for more assistance.
As an update, VIDA St. Croix will be suspending its Soil Giveaway Program beginning Monday, June 15, 2020 until further notice.
Additionally, due to the overwhelming demand on our water systems, the VIDA St. Croix campus will be implementing and enforcing the following water schedule and policies beginning on Monday, June 15, 2020:
- Water Tanks at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex
- Tuesday & Thursday, 7:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Saturday & Sunday, 6:00 am – 12:00pm
- Community Gardens
- Tuesday & Thursday, 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Saturday & Sunday, 7:00 am – 3:00 pm
- Farmers must have a Water Pass.
- Farmers will be restricted to a limit of 500 gallons per day.
- Water facilities will be CLOSED on Monday, Wednesday, & Friday.
In the St. Thomas district, Farmers are reminded that taps on existing water systems are illegal and will be removed at the Department’s discretion. Please DO NOT modify or change the direction of water flow without prior authorization.
For more information or questions, please contact the St. Croix Department of Agriculture at (340) 778-0997 or the St. Thomas Department of Agriculture at (340) 774-5182. Finally, consider reading the Food and Agriculture Organization’s document on the best conservation practices at: https://bit.ly/2ASb2mV
May 19, 2020, US Virgin Islands – The Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture (VIDA) is urging livestock and horse owners to prepare their animals for an extended dry period this year. Due to concerns for advancing dry weather, livestock and horse owners should begin to implement steps now to reduce harmful effects to their animals. Commissioner, Positive T. A. Nelson is additionally encouraging “swift action to ensure that food and water are available for their animals during the dry weather.”
Dr. Bethany Bradford, Director of Veterinary Services explains that “extended dry weather presents serious health and welfare issues for animals that depend on forage and pasture. Especially at risk are sheep, goats, cattle, and horses who are at risk for malnutrition, disease, and death when pastures dry out. Animals will need additional clean water to stay hydrated. Salt and molasses can help to balance nutritional needs during dry weather. Supplemental nutrition will be required for pregnant, lactating, and growing animals. If possible, reduce your herd to a manageable and affordable size for the amount of land that you have and feed you can provide.”
Dr. Bradford advises farmers to focus on providing protein for pasture animals. Quality feed such as alfalfa cubes, rabbit pellets, fresh tan-tan and leguminous vines provide excellent protein for animals which results in better overall health. In these difficult times, it is important to spend money wisely on much needed protein and read product labels to ensure adequate nutrition.
VIDA additionally reminds farmers to protect pastures and alternate/remove animals before the grass is killed by overgrazing. Taking good care of your pastures now, allows you to use them for longer periods of time and can reduce your feed bill in the future.
Additionally, livestock and horse owners need to ensure fences are in good shape to keep animals in. During the dry season, animals will break down fences in order to find food and will wander on to roads and into yards and other farms causing crop damage and possibly vehicle accidents.
For more information on preparing for the dry weather contact the Department of Agriculture Veterinary Services St. Croix 778-0997, St. Thomas 774-5182, or St. John 776-6274.