Guam- A special bridge loan program has been created for farmers that have experienced crop losses from recent heavy rains.
The Guam Economic Development Authority (GEDA) board approved the 6 month no payment, no interest loan yesterday [Wednesday], which gives each farmer up to $20 thousand dollars.
The entire loan program is capped at 500 thousand dollars. The loan can be extended for 24 months but a 4-percent interest rate will be implemented. A 90 day enrollment period should also be open sometime this week.
Although the program provides some relief for farmers, Senator Rory Respicio believes more should have been done. Respicio wrote a letter over a week ago to Governor Eddie Calvo asking him to declare a State of Emergency for the farmers who suffered crop damage.
He tells PNC he is not pleased with the idea of a bridge loan because it shows how the government prioritizes its local farmers. He argues declaring an emergency is a more immediate way to provide the cash needed to help the farmers recover from their losses.
“Just doesn’t make sense that you’re going to tell farmers that you’re helping them, then you’re going to give them a loan,” said Respicio. “And they’re doing this absent any legislative partnership. They’re doing this now giving the loan through GEDA, now asking what the legislature is going to do. If the governor declared an emergency, he could have spent up to $250 thousand dollars to provide the cash necessary to help these farmers.”
Respicio adds GEDA is not in the business of cash, but in the business of loans. He also asks the governor to reconsider his request to declare an emergency and use a current statute that provides crop damage assistance as the mechanism to get the farmers the help they need.