Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett released the following statement after hosting members of Congress from the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Committee on St. Croix for the 49th annual Agriculture and Food Fair (Agrifest):
“I was delighted to host Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee Collin Petersen and Congressman James Comer as special guests to the 49th Agriculture and Food Fair on St. Croix. Chairman Petersen has been a member of the House Agriculture Committee for over 30 years and has been a strong advocate [for] farmers and small business owners over the years. Both Petersen and Comer attended the Agriculture Fair opening ceremony along with me, where they were greeted by Gov. Bryan and Senate President Francis. Following the ceremony, Stafford Crossman, assistant director with the University of the Virgin Islands’ Cooperative Extension Service [UVI-CES], gave the Agriculture Committee members a personal tour of the fairgrounds. During the tour, the committee members spoke at length with local Senepol cattle farmers, 4-H students and other farmers.
“I also hosted a roundtable for the Agriculture Committee members so they could meet with local farmers, USDA representatives, UVI-CES representatives, along with Senators Allison DeGazon and Javan James and other local agriculture stakeholders. During the discussion, Comer, a farmer himself and former Commissioner of Agriculture in the state of Kentucky, provided excellent insight based on his experience in agribusiness and spoke specifically about the new challenges facing the hemp market. The roundtable discussion led to a list of action items that we all agreed to work on together back in Washington, D.C. Additionally, we specifically discussed the unique aspects of farming in the Virgin Islands and the challenges and opportunities that exist for agriculture in the territory.
“I am pleased that Chairman Petersen pledged his commitment to work with the Virgin Islands to address and resolve some of the unique challenges we face as a territory. In his words, ‘I’m glad that we could bring the committee to the U.S. Virgin Islands [USVI] to meet with farmers, local officials and USDA representatives to discuss challenges and opportunities for agriculture in the territory. I also enjoyed our visit to the USVI Agricultural and Food Fair to meet with 4-Hers and see the diversity of agriculture in the USVI, and the resourcefulness of farmers to supply the growing demand for local and regional products.’
“I look forward to working with my colleagues back in Washington, D.C. and with local officials here in the Virgin Islands to ensure that our farmers get what they need to be successful, while making sure the excellent agriculture products that are produced in the Virgin Islands continue to be recognized.”