85.7 F
Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 25, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesAgriculture Asks for $500,000 Less Than Last Year

Agriculture Asks for $500,000 Less Than Last Year

July 27, 2004 –– The Senate Finance Committee heard an unusually modest plea Monday afternoon in its final week of budget hearings.
"I wish I could come before you with a plan to do something big or special that we envision for next year," said Agriculture Commissioner Lawrence Lewis, "but our budget does not afford us this possibility." Like many other departments, Lewis said his department's hands have been tied because of under staffing, and, in one case, because of a lack of proper training available.
Lewis said the abattoir on St. Croix was almost closed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently because of an infraction of rules.
"The abattoir was clean and sanitary," Lewis said, "but there are rules, regulations and protocols which must be regularly followed, and we were not following them." He said to be able to follow these standards, "staff must be trained and made to understand the importance of these rules. In our efforts to manage with limited funds, training was often curtailed."
While following USDA guidelines, Lewis said, workers were not following a required written protocol.
While the department's tropical bont tick surveillance and reporting program is continuing, Lewis said the department is now poised to execute a program "aimed at the eradication of this disease." It will be funded by a $289,787 federal grant from the USDA.
For more than 170 years, the tropical bont tick (Amblyomma variegatum) has been island hopping in the Caribbean, bringing severe economic losses for livestock producers wherever it goes. It prefers to feed on domestic cattle, but will also infest sheep, goats, horses and dogs. In some areas, the tick can infest humans, causing intense skin irritation and inflammation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website.
Lewis said the eradication of the tick is "critically important to the export of Senepol cattle, and V. I. white hair sheep. We aim to treat all farm animals and horses that are host to the pest," he said. Temporary employees will be hired for the program. The cattle and sheep are two important St. Croix exports.
Lewis also made a point of notifying owners that if his department encounters any animals "too wild to be managed, they will be shot." He said, "We will do this with the knowledge of the V. I. Police Department and the owner, where possible."
The proposed Agriculture Department fiscal year 2005 budget is $2.58 million, which is $515,580 less than FY 2004, a 16.64 percent decrease. It is barely enough to get by Lewis said, "You would understand, therefore, why we have been making adjustments, combining duties and responsibilities."
Lewis said the Office of Management and Budget cut five positions in the department. He has written to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull about one of them, the agriculture development assistant director. "That position represents the placement of the only academically trained agriculturist in the St. Thomas office," he said.

Back Talk

Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice… click here.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.




Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.

STAY CONNECTED

20,771FansLike
4,755FollowersFollow

FROM FACEBOOK

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
Load more
July 27, 2004 –– The Senate Finance Committee heard an unusually modest plea Monday afternoon in its final week of budget hearings.
"I wish I could come before you with a plan to do something big or special that we envision for next year," said Agriculture Commissioner Lawrence Lewis, "but our budget does not afford us this possibility." Like many other departments, Lewis said his department's hands have been tied because of under staffing, and, in one case, because of a lack of proper training available.
Lewis said the abattoir on St. Croix was almost closed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently because of an infraction of rules.
"The abattoir was clean and sanitary," Lewis said, "but there are rules, regulations and protocols which must be regularly followed, and we were not following them." He said to be able to follow these standards, "staff must be trained and made to understand the importance of these rules. In our efforts to manage with limited funds, training was often curtailed."
While following USDA guidelines, Lewis said, workers were not following a required written protocol.
While the department's tropical bont tick surveillance and reporting program is continuing, Lewis said the department is now poised to execute a program "aimed at the eradication of this disease." It will be funded by a $289,787 federal grant from the USDA.
For more than 170 years, the tropical bont tick (Amblyomma variegatum) has been island hopping in the Caribbean, bringing severe economic losses for livestock producers wherever it goes. It prefers to feed on domestic cattle, but will also infest sheep, goats, horses and dogs. In some areas, the tick can infest humans, causing intense skin irritation and inflammation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations website.
Lewis said the eradication of the tick is "critically important to the export of Senepol cattle, and V. I. white hair sheep. We aim to treat all farm animals and horses that are host to the pest," he said. Temporary employees will be hired for the program. The cattle and sheep are two important St. Croix exports.
Lewis also made a point of notifying owners that if his department encounters any animals "too wild to be managed, they will be shot." He said, "We will do this with the knowledge of the V. I. Police Department and the owner, where possible."
The proposed Agriculture Department fiscal year 2005 budget is $2.58 million, which is $515,580 less than FY 2004, a 16.64 percent decrease. It is barely enough to get by Lewis said, "You would understand, therefore, why we have been making adjustments, combining duties and responsibilities."
Lewis said the Office of Management and Budget cut five positions in the department. He has written to Gov. Charles W. Turnbull about one of them, the agriculture development assistant director. "That position represents the placement of the only academically trained agriculturist in the St. Thomas office," he said.

Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Croix Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much -- and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice... click here.