Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will make his first official visit to Puerto Rico where he will highlight USDA’s ongoing commitment to addressing food security and rural opportunity in the commonwealth.
Vilsack will meet with staff from seven USDA agencies working in the commonwealth: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS); Agricultural Research Service (ARS); Farm Service Agency (FSA); Food and Nutrition Service (FNS); U.S. Forest Service; Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); and USDA Rural Development. Since 2009, USDA has invested more than $20 billion in Puerto Rico across various programs, including nutrition, infrastructure, housing, farming and ranching, conservation and forestry, and research.
On Wednesday, Vilsack will meet with Governor Alejandro García Padilla, Senate Majority Leader Eduardo Bhatia, and Speaker of the House of Representatives Jaime R. Perelló Borrás. Later that day he will tour the U.S. Forest Service Sabana Field Research Station and El Yunque National Forest to highlight USDA's key research initiatives in the Caribbean Climate Sub Hub. USDA has established a network of seven regional Climate Hubs and three Sub Hubs to support applied research and provide information to farmers, ranchers, advisors, and managers to inform climate-related decision making and region-specific adaptation strategies.
On Thursday, Vilsack will highlight Puerto Rico's growth potential and announce a series of additional federal investments in Puerto Rico's future. The day will begin with a meeting of farmers, ranchers, producers and agriculture-related businesspeople to gauge the needs and opportunities of Puerto Rico's agricultural sector. Vilsack will then convene a meeting with a dozen investors, financial leaders, economists and entrepreneurs to discuss rural economic opportunity.
Since 2006, Puerto Rico and the 3.5 million American citizens who call the commonwealth home have endured a decade-long recession.