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An Informative Farm-to-School Roundtable in St. Paul

I had the opportunity this week to participate in a roundtable discussion and tour of the St. Paul Schools’ Nutrition Services center. Joining me were local school foodservice professionals and members of the farming, distribution and non-profit community who are working to expand Farm-to-School programs in Minnesota. Read more »

Donativo del Programa de Energia Para USDA Asegura la Continuacion de la Cosecha del Café en Puerto Rico

Cuando la mayoría de los americanos piensan en café, piensan en Sur America o Hawaii. Lo que no saben es que Puerto Rico tiene una larga tradición en la producción de café de alta calidad. Un donativo otorgado al dueño de una hacienda de café  por USDA Rural Development bajo el programa de Energía Rural para America (REAP) está ayudando a conservar la tradición.

El café llego a nuestra isla en el año 1700 y fue por mucho tiempo, nuestro principal producto de exportación. Algunos de los mejores café del mundo son producidos en la zona montañosa central en el pueblo de Adjuntas. La combinación de la altura, ambiente fresco, lluvia y suelo volcánico contribuyen a que crezca una variedad de café con un sabor exquisito.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, coffee plantation owner Jimmy Román, and workers at the plantationJosé Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, holds freshly roasted coffee at the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation.

Un problema grande que tenemos en Puerto Rico es el alto costo del gas propano combustible que se usa para secar y tostar el grano del café. Recientemente, el Sr. Jimmy Román dueño de la Hacienda Monte Alto, hacienda productora de café vino a USDA Rural Development buscando fondos para comprar un horno especial para tostar café. El horno en vez de usar gas propano usa la cáscara del café como combustible. Pudimos otorgarles un donativo de $14,000 al Sr. Román y a su familia para la compra de los hornos.

Debido a este nuevo sistema de tostar el café, esta pequeña plantación familiar no va a tener que subir los precios del café por la fluctuación del precio del combustible. El Sr. Román me indicó que este sistema de tostado del café, va a estabilizar los costos de producción, preservando 15 empleos permanentes y 40 de temporada en la cosecha del café. Es un placer trabajar con el dueño de esta plantación de café, el Sr. Román y su familia  y asegurarnos en continuar esta larga tradición de la cosecha del café puertorriqueño, y que esta familia pueda continuar trabajando su tierra en Puerto Rico.

Por José Otero-García, Director Estatal en Puerto Rico de USDA Rural Development.

USDA Rural Energy for America Grant Helps Ensure the Continuation of Puerto Rico’s Coffee Harvest

When most Americans think of coffee, they think of South America or Hawaii.  What they may not know is that Puerto Rico has a long and significant relationship with coffee.  Funds provided to a coffee plantation owner by USDA Rural Development through the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program are helping to preserve that heritage.

Coffee first came to our island in the 1700s, and was for a long time, a primary export.  Some of the finest coffee in the world is produced in the central mountain range in the town of Adjuntas. A combination of high altitude, cool weather, precipitation and volcanic soil allows the growing of a coffee variety with very flavorful beans.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, holds freshly roasted coffee at the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, holds freshly roasted coffee at the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, coffee plantation owner Jimmy Román, and workers at the plantation

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico, coffee plantation owner Jimmy Román, and workers at the plantation

The one significant drawback to coffee production here in Puerto Rico is the expense of purchasing propane gas for roasters to dry and roast the beans.  Recently, the owner of the Hacienda Monte Alto plantation, Jimmy Roman, came to USDA Rural Development seeking funds to buy special toaster ovens.  Instead of propane, these ovens use coffee bean shells for fuel.  We were able to provide a $14,000 grant to Mr. Roman and his family.

Because of this new drying system, this small family-owned plantation won’t be forced by rising fuel costs to raise the price it charges for its beans.  Mr. Roman tells me that the drying system will stabilize production costs, preserving the 15 permanent and 40 seasonal jobs that the plantation supports.  It is a pleasure to work with this plantation owner, Mr. Roman and his family to help ensure that a long-established custom, that of harvesting locally grown coffee, will continue and that a hard working family will continue to work the land here in Puerto Rico.

José Otero-García, USDA Rural Development State Director for Puerto Rico