Ag community fairing well

The farming community’s fight to recover after the ravages of Hurricane Ivan was extolled by Leader of Government Businesss Kurt Tibbetts at the Cabinet press briefing.

Speaking on Friday – the day after making the first of a series of planned visits to farms all over Cayman – Mr. Tibbetts said he was heartened by the agriculture community’s commitment after so many of them had taken some heavy blows.

Mr. Tibbetts said it was promising to see that the farmers were eager and most were well on their way to recovery.

The Department of Agriculture had been working hard to help them and many had received approval for grants or loans, he told the briefing.

The department would continue to review proposals in areas like aquaculture and agricultural tourism and when reports came in he would be taking matters to Cabinet to see if action should take place.

Staff had also been told that the government intended to move forward with a development plan for agriculture.

The reintroduction of the topic into the education system would be one of the things being looked at, he added.

Mr. Tibbetts also thanked local retailers for their support.

While it was difficult as a priority to find the necessary funding to really help, he believed that agriculture was absolutely important in the overall mix of things.

The country had to strive to be as self sufficient as possible, he said.

The question of import duties was one that had been looked at and struggled with for years, Mr. Tibbetts told the briefing.

But the government also had a responsibility to the consumer and it would not be wise to choose certain products for tariffs when it would mean affecting the cost of living for the ordinary consumer, he said.

Farmers needed to be allowed the opportunity to have their goods accessible at retail outlets so that the public could make comparisons and choose what they wanted to buy, he said.

The government was looking at various possibilities to encourage agriculture and agricultural tourism, Mr. Tibbetts told the briefing.