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Senator Genevieve Whitaker Tours Local Farms

Updated: Jan 31

Senator Genevieve Whitaker and Staff had the opportunity to tour Rueben Roebuck's farm on Saturday, August 13, 2022. During the tour, our team learned that Mr. Roebuck has hardly any support and assistance with his farm, as he can’t do it alone. He has stated that he hasn’t been receiving funding from the Department of Agriculture (DOA), which led to contacting private entities to retrieve supplies.


Other concerns involve the ridiculous markup for local fruits in the stores. For example, buying dragon fruits for $5 a pound, then selling them for $10 a pound in the store. The produce that is received from the states is the fruits that are returned, which no one wants. Mr. Roebuck suggests creating a local home statute and encouraging DOA officials to look at what local farmers produce and determine the standard based on the cost of production. Additionally, it is important to note that since the hurricane work has slowed down, and modifications were implemented. For example, for a few years now farmers have been clearing their pastures of the mounds because they’re not allowed to take them to the landfill due to any wires and fences that may be in them. Mr. Roebuck hopes that the Department of Agriculture can find an area at the landfill where farmers can burn and take the metals out as was allowed before but because it’s so dry it is not feasible. Senator Genevieve Whitaker thanks Mr. Roebuck for his generosity to the senator and her team during the visit to his farm.



Oliver Farm Meeting

At the start of her term, on February 18th, 2021, Senator Genevieve Whitaker first held a farm town hall with local farmers at the Oliver Farm in Colqhoun meeting with some of our local farmers at the Oliver Farm in Colqhoun. Other visits included but were not limited to the following as Senator Whitaker and members of the staff team held several constituent meetings with the listed farmers below and others not pictured:



  • Enrique Schuster of Crucian Sun farm on June 26, 2021, Mr. Schuster shared his experience of a lack of support from Agriculture regarding the lack of land clearing, and water supply during droughts.

  •  Grantley Samuel Farm Visit (GLG Plants and Produce) on July 24, 2021, among the various issues he shared the issue of the lack of a consistent source of water, DOA's lack of visitation noting that no one at that time, over 7 months had come to the farm and notably Senator Whitaker through her business consulting group, assisted Mr. Samuel in the past.

  • Romeo Benjamin & Jahnella Harvey- Bergan Valley Farms on August 9th, 2021, among the concerns raised were the customer market, the impact of the drought, and minimal support from DOA (lack of resources, site visits, and communications).









Additionally, Senator Whitaker before term in office and during her term in office visited the Saturday farmers market at the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex in Estate Lower Love as well as the Southgate Corner farmer's market. Additionally, Senator Whitaker has attended the Famers In Action Sunday Market at the Bethlehem Sugar Factory and took part in the April 18, 2021, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Water collection, donating water, several vendors were also present for the regular Sunday market featuring their goods and wares as s the case of the other markets. Here are some of those pictures:






Senator Whitaker back on October 13, 2021, attended and spoke at the 4th Annual Farm to WIC Family Fun Day at the Bordeaux Farmers Market, (Photo on the Platform, courtesy of the Video by Conch Shell Media ) where Billy Abraham, the Marketing Director for the Department of Agriculture, in his introduction of Senator Whitaker, shared the message about the Senator's critical role in the development of the youth specialty crop agriculture project and advocacy for the farming community. Here is the clip (courtesy of Conch Shell Media, owned by Dara Monifah Cooper, https://www.facebook.com/conchshellmedia) of the introduction and Senator Whitaker's speech.






It is also of note, that Senator Whitaker attended all of the Agriculture Plan Townhall Meetings, (September 23, 2021) wherein she asked the Ag Plan Taskforce members, led by UVI President, Dr. David Hall to consider including farmers as part of the process going forward, which they honored and selected farmers to be part of the planning process, as well as Senator Whitaker, attended the second meeting on May 9, 2022. Here is the link to the final plan: https://bit.ly/VirginIslandsAgPlan. Through her role as the Chairwoman of the Committee on Education and Workforce Development, she addressed the lack of the implementation of the teaching of agriculture from K-12 and held a hearing back on June 1st, to address the matter among the stakeholders, the Department of Education, the Board of Education, University of the Virgin Islands and Career and Technical Education Board (no representative from either the Department of Education or Board of Education were present but the Board of Education did provide information in their excuse letter on their curriculum efforts). Notably, Senator Whitaker as a member of the VI Board of Career and Technical Education has been working with her fellow members in seeking the implementation of the teaching of agriculture, the Board Members continuing their best efforts in supporting the students in agriculture and the agriculture instructors.




With these tours, we hope to continue checking on our local farmers concerning their wants and needs, and any improvements Senator Whitaker’s office can make to ensure the farms are productive. Senator Whitaker would like to keep the momentum going with the farm tours therefore farmers who may be interested in having the senator tour their farms or know anyone interested in joining the youth agricultural project can check out the following link: https://bit.ly/StakeholderFormSenWhitaker to set up an appointment.







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