ST. THOMAS – Senator Myron D. Jackson is pleased to announce that his bill to study the benefits of having a fruit processing plant in the Territory on Monday passed unanimously out of the Committee on Economic Development meeting and moved on to the Committee on Rules & Judiciary in the Frits E. Lawaetz Legislative Hall on St. Croix.
Bill No. 31-0055, an Act providing for a feasibility study for establishing a plant for processing local fruits and other agricultural products, will allow the Department of Agriculture to work in conjunction with the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, Department of Education, Economic Development Authority, and Department of Labor, to research the benefits of a plant that would generate products for local consumption and export and to be operated by the Government solely or in partnership or joint venture with a private entity.
Testifiers included the Department of Agriculture, the Economic Development Authority, We Grow Food, Ridge to Reef Farm, in support of the bill.
Senator Jackson on Monday thanked his colleagues on the committee who voted in support of the bill.
“During the vetting of the bill, some concerns were brought up about the proposed legislation being another study. However from the start it has been my intent to follow through with establishing a plant once the study is completed showing it would be feasible to meet all of the requirements to have a plant established in both districts, which is why I have another version of the bill which strictly addresses creating the fruit-processing facility,” Senator Jackson said. “The reason for this is that the initial study is necessary to facilitate the Government’s ability to apply for federal funding for the actual establishment.”
Several indicators in the study would determine the likelihood of success of the processing plant.
A market analysis would include a survey of the market size, value, and demand for the products. A technical analysis would show the availability of sufficient produce and other raw materials for year-round production, availability of equipment, a suitable site, quality assurance, and trained or experienced personnel. And a financial analysis would include startup, production, and labor costs, as well as availability and prices for services such as water, power, shipping, and waste management. The study will also look at potential business partners, and how the plant would contribute to the economic development of the Territory, from jobs to taxes gained from the industry.
“Once established, I envision that the plant will support local farmers, advance agriculture in the Territory, and create much needed revenue and jobs, while making the best use of our natural agricultural resources, and marketing the Virgin Islands’ unique, fresh, organic products,” Senator Jackson said.
For more information, call the Office of Senator Myron D. Jackson at 340-693-3519.