Sen. Ruiz Proposes Agriculture Department Set Coffee Prices
PONCE, Puerto Rico – Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves, who chairs the Agriculture, Mountain and Southern Region Sustainability Committee, has proposed through legislation that the Agriculture Department establish coffee prices instead of the Consumer Affairs Department (DACO by its acronym in Spanish), which does so today.
“Agriculture should do it so the price of coffee is appropriately set for the industry because DACO has failed to comply with Act 222 of 2008, since it did not revise the prices within five years, as stipulated. That could have caused a decline in this industry, hurting local coffee production, creating unrest in the coffee sector,” Ruiz Nieves said.
The senator stressed the importance of the industry for the 21 municipalities that produce the bean. “The revision of the price of coffee is necessary amid the continued income decline farmers and millers face due to production costs.”
Ruiz Nieves introduced Senate Bill 1578, adding a new paragraph to Article Eight of Reorganization Plan Four of July 29, 2010, so the Agriculture Secretary be required to conduct a review of coffee’s price every five years.
The decision would be made taking into consideration the recommendations of a Coffee Evaluation Committee composed of economists from DACO, the Agriculture Department, the College of Agricultural Sciences of the University of Puerto Rico and a representative of each of the industry’s three sectors: agriculture, processors and roasters, who would be appointed by the Agriculture secretary.
The measure stipulates that the Coffee Evaluation Committee’s decision be amended within a 90-day period, once the secretary has set a coffee price increase.
By 2013, local farmers produced about 80,000 pounds of coffee, which represents only a third of local consumption, according to Agriculture Department data.
Production in previous years fluctuated from 105,000 pounds to 150,000 pounds, according to agency statistics. Since then, Puerto Rico has been importing coffee from countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic to meet local demand.
Inter News Agency