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Tuesday, June 20, 2006 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Land Use Plan does not benefit farmers
By Manuel Ernesto Rivera

SAN JUAN (AP) – If the government continues to authorize ''the sowing of cement” in land of high productivity and agricultural potential, Puerto Rico could not guarantee “food security” for its inhabitants.

This is why the Agronomists Association and other entities related to the farming world are seeking to prevent the Planning Board from approving in their final version of the Land Use Plan their proposal of only preserving 211,000 acres of land for agricultural activity.

Agriculture Secretary José Fabre Laboy acknowledged Monday that the Land Use Plan proposed by Planning Board President Angel Rodríguez does not preserve the acres of land necessary for the agricultural activity.

The agriculture chief said in a press conference that more than 600,000 acres of land should be preserved for that purpose.

Agronomist Jessica Medina, of the Agriculture Extension Service, said that to guarantee the “food security of all Puerto Ricans”, 737,000 acres of land would have to be preserved for agricultural development, at a rate of .17 acres per person.

The official does not know where the Planning Board arrived at the figure of 211,000 acres of land.

She said that the 2002 census identified 690,000 acres of land that are currently being used for agricultural activity, which represents more than 25% of the island’s land.

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