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Federal aid to farmers: The prospect of more food

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Federal Government | 0 comments

With the military becoming more active in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), the civilian and soldier population is rapidly growing, leading citizens to seek help from the government for support in agriculture on the islands.  Research recently released by Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan (D) of CNMI confirmed residents on the islands currently have access to federal programs, such as the Value-Added Producer Grants and the Farm to School Grant. 

The Resilient Food Systems Infrastructure (RFSI) Program strives to strengthen the food supply chain and aid small businesses and farms. The program’s initiatives also, “support the development of value-added products for consumers, fair prices, fair wages, and new and safe job opportunities.”

In March, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded CNMI $2 million under the RSFI program allocated to fund projects that increase resilience across the farming supply chain.

Director CNMI Division of Agriculture Jack Ogumoro said, “The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands has always been dependent on imports, and with the RFSI funding, it could provide a better opportunity for our islands to minimize the influx of imports and a better chance to improve locally processed food that can be substitutes of some imported food products.”  

The Value-Added Producer Grants, or VAPG, “under USDA’s Rural Development agency, help agricultural producers enter value-added activities to generate new products, create and expand marketing opportunities, and increase producer income.”

The Farm to School Grant program funds “farm-to-school activities including sourcing local foods, farm tours, school gardens, and nutrition education,” upwards of $100,000. 

The Beginning Farmer & Rancher Development Program “supports the delivery of education, mentoring, and technical assistance programs to help beginning farmers and ranchers in the United States and its territories with entering, establishing, building, and managing successful farm and ranch enterprises.” It is available to the Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. 

The subsidies from the government are aimed at aiding farmers in many aspects of their careers,  leading to increased production of food for the military and the general population in the Marianas. While this is a step forward in terms of communication between farmers and the government, there is still a long way left to go. 

In his press release, Sablan said, “The military presence does create greater demand for food and is an important economic opportunity for the Marianas. But we also know from our experience during the pandemic that our food supply lines are inherently fragile. Producing more of what we need to live on our own soil, just as our ancestors did for thousands of years, also makes sense, as our island community faces an uncertain future.”



Ellie Keum

Ellie Keum

Ellie Keum is a 16 year old girl who lives in New Jersey and is a sophomore at The Hotchkiss School, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut. Ellie enjoys all forms of writing including poetry and creative prose, but focuses mostly on writing newspaper articles for various media outlets, especially those geared towards news and opinion. Her writing advocates for Asian and SWANA youth through literature, encourages female entrepreneurship, and covers current events. In her free time, she immerses herself in different languages, and has taken substantial time to build a strong foundation in Spanish, French, Latin, and German. She also loves playing hockey and hanging out with her friends. Ellie is a Federal Affairs Intern Correspondent at Pasquines.


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