It Is Time to Save Our Dairy Industry

Dear Source:
It is no secret that Island Dairies plan to get out of the fresh milk business. The decision to abandon the cow and pastures was made as a result of the high cost associated with owning and operating a dairy processing plant in the Virgin Islands. The high cost of insurance and WAPA bills are but two of the determining factors.
The decision as simple as it seems, will impact the Virgin Islands culture because Island Dairies locally produced fresh milk and milk products has become a part of our tradition. Island Dairies milk product is second to none, given the fact that Island Dairies do not inject their cows with any of the dangerous drugs or hormones used in the dairy industry for mass production.
So why is something that's near and dear to us at risk of becoming extinct, while the local government does nothing? Where are our leaders, and why are they not huddling on the Island Dairies issue? After all, the entire situation is not a hopeless one. There is much that can be done to assist the Virgin Islands Dairy Industry. The senate is known for providing exemptions on everything from liquor, cigarettes, barrels of oil and even incentives to our friend Mr. Prosser. Why then are they not extending a package of incentives to Island Dairies, similar to those they provide the special interest.
Time is of the essence and our leaders need to act fast. Why are the St. Croix district senators not doing anything except grandstanding and bickering every time the mic is near? I'm about to offer some ideas on resolving the issue, which are royalty free.
The senate needs to communicate the need for an emergency meeting with governor Turnbull and the stakeholders of Island Dairies, to determine the issues needed to be addressed. At the meeting, a plan of action should be drafted, which should include timelines. Our government needs to treat the matter as an emergency.
Some ideas to consider include the possibility of a public/private business partnership between the Government of the Virgin Islands and Island Dairies. They may also consider purchasing the dairy operations and employing the assistance of Farmers in Action, Farmers Coop, UVI or the existing management. A bailout or investment in the company should also be considered. Last but not least, our leaders must leave their egos outside the meeting room, roll up their sleeves, and start doing something for the people.
Gonzalo Rivera
St. Croix

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