Agencies asked to comply with law that requires purchase of local produce and fish

Senator Clynt Ridgell (35th Guam Legislature photo)

Senator Clynt Ridgell has contacted various government agencies requesting compliance with a local law that gives preference to the purchase of local produce and fish.

“I have been meeting with local farmers who drew my attention to this law. The farmers have indicated to me that they believe many agencies are not giving preference to local produce and local fish as is required by the law,” said Senator Ridgell in a news release.

Chapter 68, Title 5 GCA states that agencies such as the Department of Education, Department of Youth Affairs, Department of Corrections, the Guam Memorial Hospital, and the Government House are mandated to give preference to local farmers and fishermen before purchasing them off-island.

“At this time, more than ever, we must do our best to support local products, support local farmers, and support local fishermen. This will not only help to revive our local economy, it will also keep money circulating in our economy rather than sending that money into off-island economies,” said Senator Ridgell.

Chapter 68 further requires that agencies include a plan for the purchase of farm and fish products from local farmers and fishermen in their budget request; provide the Bureau of Statistics and Plans with quarterly projections on procurement of produce and fish; provide the Department of Agriculture with quarterly projections on procurement of local produce and fish; and establish a system where payment for these products will be made with a minimum delay of no longer than two working days. These agencies are mandated to give preference to local farmers and fishermen before purchasing them from off-island sources.

“Local farmers have been hit hard by COVID-19 as many of their regular customers in the restaurant and hotel industry have been forced to shut down. Now is the time for the government to assist the local agricultural industry,” the senator said.

The Department of Agriculture is required to facilitate the negotiation of prices, amounts and availability of local produce and fish with the farmers and fishermen for the sale; assist in securing payment from respective Agencies; provide the necessary advice and assistance to ensure that the crops and fishes are delivered to the particular agency in the best possible condition; adopt operational procedures relative to establishing a list of qualified local farmers and fishermen; and to assist those qualified local farmers and fishermen in the establishment of pricing, variety, quantity, quality, availability, and other related logistics to facilitate the acquisition of local produce and fish consistent with the needs of the agencies.

“I have also written a letter to the Department of Agriculture, and I am working with them to ensure that local farmers and fishermen are given priority by local agencies when they are looking to procure produce or fish. We need to protect our local farming and fishing industry first so that we can look to truly building a strong agricultural industry that will ensure food security in times of crisis. Guam was self-sustainable in the past. I believe we can make Guam self-sustainable again. I believe we can Make Guam Green Again!”

(Sen. Clynt Ridgell news release)