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.

Public Notice – St. Thomas Abattoir

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 info.doa@doa.vi.gov .

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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

To apply, please contact USDA FSA for an appointment at (340) 773-9146, x105. For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3hG9j53 or email us at info.doa@doa.vi.gov.

VIDA would like to thank US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett for their assistance in securing this funding.

Please click here for USDA’s Livestock Forage Fact Sheet.

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Agriculture is a small but critically important industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Agriculture is only a small portion of the territory’s gross domestic product (GDP); roughly 97 percent of our food is imported from elsewhere. This leaves the territory vulnerable to food shortages in case of any global food crisis. The government wants to fix this.

The U.S. Virgin Islands offers many financial incentives for individuals engaged in agricultural activity. These incentives are designed to protect agriculture in the territory and boost profits for farmers and other agricultural workers and business owners. Through its Economic Development Authority, the U.S. Virgin Islands encourages agricultural businesses to start, grow or relocate to the territory. The island of St. Croix is the agricultural center of the territory.

Below are some of the benefits and tax exemptions offered to agricultural businesses.

Income taxes

If you engage in agricultural activity, you qualify for a subsidy of up to 90 percent of your income tax that was derived from agriculture. If you are not otherwise disqualified under any applicable law, you may elect to have your income tax liability reduced on a current basis in an amount equal to the subsidy benefit and in lieu of such subsidy payment.

Gross receipt taxes

Revenues from tariffs from agriculture are exempt from gross receipts taxes. Anyone engaged in agriculture is exempt from paying the Government of the Virgin Islands any gross receipt taxes on sales of products derived from the agricultural activities.

Real estate ad valorem taxes

A property owner can receive a tax credit of 95 percent of the property taxes levied by the Tax Assessor against the total area of real property, including structures and improvements, used actively and solely for agricultural or horticultural purposes. Even if you don’t own the land, your improvements would only be taxable at 5 percent of the real property taxes levied by the Tax Assessor against the structures and improvements.

Excise taxes and customs duties

Any agriculture building materials, supplies, equipment and implements brought into the Virgin Islands are exempt from excise taxes. Anyone engaged in agriculture does not have to pay the government for these items if they are used for agricultural operations.

Franchise taxes and license fees

Anyone engaged in agricultural activities is exempt from paying the government any franchise taxes and license fees directly related to and arising from agriculture operations. To enjoy this benefit, you are required to pay a $1 fee to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs for the purpose of doing business in the territory.

This information was originally posted here and was provided by Tom Bolt, a managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full-service business law firm on St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.

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