Government hits back over farmers’ claims that board failed to represent industry
Claims that no commercial farmers sit on the Board of Agriculture have been dismissed by the Government.
The Bermuda Farmers Association made the allegation this week, claiming that the Board failed to represent the industry.
A BFA spokesman said on Monday: “The Board of Agriculture as it exists does not adequately represent the farming industry as there are no commercial farmers on the board.
“The BFA calls for the board to be reappointed with 50 per cent of its members being working farmers who are the stakeholders.”
Last night a government spokesman insisted that half of the current board are practising farmers.
In a statement, the spokesman said: “The Board of Agriculture has a maximum of 12 members, and 50 per cent of those are registered commercial farmers focusing on in-ground crop production, organic-type farming, and dairy and micro green production.”
The spokesman said that four out of the island’s nine large crop farms had representatives on the board last year, but two have since stood down.
He added: “Despite best efforts, other large farmers and producers declined invitations to join. Two representatives from large commercial crop farms currently sit on the board.”
The BFA also claimed that the board had failed to advise the Government of key deficiencies within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
It claimed that a marketing centre set up to provide supplies to farmers was constantly understaffed while the key post of agronomist had not been filled.
In response, the government spokesman said that the board had “new priorities” — to identify the use of new technologies such as hydroponics and to encourage new farmers into the industry.
The spokesman said: “The board’s purpose is to advise the responsible minister on all agriculture and horticulture-related matters, ranging from commercial and dairy farming and home and community gardening to aquaculture.
“This broad remit is soon to get larger. As such, the board should have good representation from those diverse fields of interest.
“Additionally, the board’s new priorities are to identify the use of new technologies like hydroponics and to encourage new farmers into the industry.”
Individuals with a background in agriculture interested in joining the Board of Agriculture, or any other government board or committee, can apply online here.