May 2022 USDA Caribbean Update Newsletter

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US Department of Agriculture

USDA Caribbean Update  -  May 2022

In This Issue:


NRCS has three (3) separate grant opportunities open for Puerto Rico and USVI conservation partners. The grants have a short timeframe for accepting applications and all are due at the end of May. Funding is available for:

  • National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI) – Up to $150,000 is available to support watershed assessments in priority areas of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The NRCS Watershed Assessments funding notice for NWQI, Opportunity Number USDA-NRCS-PR-EQIP-22-NOFO0001206, has been posted to and is open for applications through May 25, 2022. Learn more at
  • Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) – Up to $500,000 is available to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies in conjunction with agricultural production for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Funds will be awarded through a competitive process; the maximum project award will not exceed $100,000. At least 10% of the total 2022 CIG funds is set aside for proposals from historically underserved producers, veteran farmers or ranchers, or community-based organizations comprised of or representing these entities. The application deadline is May 31, 2022. For details, visit
  • Caribbean Partners for Conservation (CPC) – Up to $500,000 is available for conservation partnership projects in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Opportunity Number USDA-NRCS-PR-CPC-22-NOFO0001207 has been posted to and is open for applications through May 31, 2022. Learn more at:

Partners are crucial to our agency and we hope that you consider these opportunities to the benefit of your organization, our natural resources and our Caribbean Area farmers, ranchers and non-industrial private forest landowners. A webinar presentation explaining the federal application process, budget allowability and review process is available at (scroll to the bottom of the page).

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Caribbean Area SCAN station upgrades from April 22 through May 12 2022.

Clockwise from top left: upgrading Adjuntas, Maricao, St. Croix, Corozal and Juana Díaz SCAN stations; relocating Mayagüez SCAN station; and evaluting potential St. Thomas SCAN station sites.

Since Earth Day, the NRCS Caribbean Area Soils team and scientists from the National Water and Climate Center have been repairing, upgrading and relocating our SCAN (Soil Climate Analysis Network) stations across Puerto Rico and the USVI. The Soil SCAN system focuses on agricultural areas across the U.S. and comprises a network of over 200 stations, including 10 in the Caribbean Area (eight in Puerto Rico and two in the USVI). A typical SCAN site monitors soil moisture content at several depths, air temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, liquid precipitation, and barometric pressure. Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017 caused severe damage to these stations, but all were partially restored in 2018 (except for St. John and St. Croix, USVI). During the recent update, the team replaced all sensors to the latest climate monitoring technology. Beginning at the Isabela Agricultural Research Station (ARS), then moving to Combate at FWS, Maricao State Forest, Mayagüez ARS, Guánica Dry Forest, Guilarte State Forest, Juana Díaz UPR Agriculture Experiment State (AES), Corozal AES, and St. Croix, USVI. The work included the removal of the St. John site at Cinnamon Bay, VI National Park, and the evaluation of areas for a new site in St. Thomas, USVI. Learn more…

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2022 Puerto Rico Conservationist Farmers of the Year

On May 3rd, NRCS joined Agriculture Secretary Ramon Gonzalez Beiro, the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture (PRDA) and the Puerto Rico Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) to celebrate the 2022 Conservationist Farmers of the Year! Over 100 farmers, Conservation District members and agronomists gathered at the awards ceremony held at the Coamo Municipal Center. The awards event was part of Earth Week, celebrated May 1-7, to honor Puerto Rico’s farmers and fishers for their perseverance, dedication and devotion to the land. The honorees were selected for their efforts to conserve natural resources while feeding our people. This year’s Awardees were (above, numbered clockwise from top left):

  1. Ana Perez, Finca Gaia – Atlántico SWCD (with PRDA Secretary Ramon Gonzalez and NRCS STC Luis Cruz-Arroyo)
  2. Camilo Roman Muñiz – Cibuco SWCD (with Director Cruz and San Sebastian DC Elizabeth Fred)
  3. Cesar Pérez de León – Cibuco SWCD
  4. Edwin Rosado & Edwin Alexis Rosado, Finca Rosado – Caribe SWCD
  5. Luis A. Muñiz Vera – Suroeste SWCD
  6. José A. Cordero – Oeste SWCD
  7. Yolanda Burgos Rodriguez – Cibuco SWCD
  8. Marla D. Quintana – Caonillas SWCD
  9. Marilyn Rosa Tirado – Este SWCD & Conservationist of the Year (with Hector Ivan Aponte, Caribe SWCD Director; Juan L. Rodriguez, PRDA-ADEA Executive Director; Joel Vega, Oeste SWCD President; PRDA Secretary Ramon Gonzalez; Mama Tirado; NRCS STC Luis Cruz-Arroyo; Robert Bradley, PRDA Sub Secretary; and Carlos Castillo, PRDA Caguas Regional Director.)

Said NRCS Caribbean State Conservationist Luis Cruz-Arroyo, “It was an honor to celebrate their accomplishments and their Conservation ethic – Congratulations to all!”

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San Sebastian Soil Conservationist Javier Torres presents NRCS program info at Moca Farm Administration course on 5 May 2022.

On May 5th San Sebastián Soil Conservationist, Javier Torres (standing at right), was invited to share information about NRCS services and conservation practices with 12 students at the UPR Southwest Ag Extension Office’s Farm Administration course at “Centro Tecnológico de Moca”. SC Torres spoke to the students, professors and institution personnel about the NRCS mission and vision, the services we provide and how to apply for assistance. He described examples of the various conservation practices available for local farm operations.

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Producers in St. Croix and St. Thomas Districts are eligible to apply for 2022 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) benefits on Native Pasture, and Full Season Improved pasture. LFP provides compensation if you suffer grazing losses for covered livestock due to drought on privately owned or cash leased land. County committees can only accept LFP applications after notification is received by the National Office of qualifying drought. For additional information about LFP, including eligible livestock, contact the St. Croix County USDA Service Center at 340-773-9146 ext. 100 or visit

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Are you new to farming or ranching? USDA can help you get started or grow your farming operation through a variety of programs and services. From farm loans to crop insurance to conservation programs to disaster assistance, USDA is here to support you and your operation. USDA recently selected a national coordinator and state-level coordinators, who will focus on better serving beginning farmers and ranchers.

Each state coordinator will receive training and develop tailored beginning farmer outreach plans for their state. Coordinators will help field employees better reach and serve beginning farmers and ranchers and will also be available to assist beginning farmers who need help navigating the variety of resources USDA has to offer. Visit to find the coordinators for Puerto Rico and the USVI to help you get started today.

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Frank Velazquez, Luis Garcia, Wanda Perez, Madeline Colon, Irene Torres, Pedro Perez meet 12 May 2022

For National Small Business Week, USDA staff visited the PR Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBDTC) at the InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico in Barranquitas. They participated in a USDA Small Business 201 Workshop held April 13-14 to discuss ways to better serve rural, minority, women, veteran, and other small businesses. The workshop impacted over 40 small businesses and individuals.

USDA leadership held a follow-up briefing session on May 12th with the Barranquitas SBDTC (right) to continue promoting USDA services throughout Puerto Rico. During the session, available programs were discussed along with collaboration opportunities to provide additional assistance to beginning farmers and ranchers, forest landowners, and rural communities. Specific topics identified were understanding the program application processes and supporting documentation, business plan preparation, access to new programs, and funding availability. Team members also reviewed ways to form partnerships with SBTDC, cooperative banking, and academic institutions to combine resources to serve rural, minority, women, veteran, and other small businesses more effectively. [Photo left to right: Frank Velazquez, NRCS-CB Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations; Luis Garcia, RD Acting State Director; Wanda J. Perez, FSA State Executive Director; Madelline Colon, Barranquitas InterAmerican University SBTDC Regional Director; Irene Torres-Rivera, USFS Forestry Technician; and Pedro Perez, Barranquitas County FSA Farm Loan Officer Trainee.]

PR-SBDTC in Barranquitas is an important partner for USDA and rural communities as they provide technical support resources for small businesses to increase access in rural areas, along with technology and business knowledge for our farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners.

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On May 12, USDA Rural Development and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) unveiled a joint resource guide to help community organizations access USDA and EDA resources to build strategies to boost economic development in rural America. The resource guide outlines programs and services that can be used to advance community and economic development in rural communities through four key focus areas:

  • Planning and technical assistance
  • Infrastructure and broadband expansion
  • Entrepreneurship and business assistance
  • Workforce development and livability

Learn more

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In honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America. They include funding for 165 projects to expand access to safe water and/or clean energy for people living in equity communities, including two Water and Waste Disposal Disaster grant awards to Puerto Rico. The program awarded $30K to Acueducto Rural Comunidades Especiales Bayamoncito Inc. to ensure that the Aqueduct can provide safe & reliable drinking water to the community in the event of a disaster. Comite Comunal de Corcovada Inc. will receive $19K to purchase a new generator to run the well stations for the community water system.

The announcement was part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, during which officials traveled to dozens of rural communities to talk about the impact of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, as well as President Biden’s broader commitment to ensure federal resources reach all communities in rural America. Learn more…

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USDA Rural Development is seeking applications for grants that will help create jobs and business opportunities for socially disadvantaged groups in rural America. USDA is making the funding available under the Socially Disadvantaged Groups Grant program, which provides technical assistance to socially disadvantaged groups in rural areas. This program supports Rural Development’s mission to improve the quality of life for rural Americans and commit agency resources to those in need. 

USDA is offering priority points to projects that advance key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity and combat climate change. These extra points will increase the likelihood of funding for projects that will advance these key priorities and expand geographic diversity of socially disadvantaged groups from these funds. A socially disadvantaged group is defined as one whose members have been subjected to racial, ethnic or gender prejudice without regard to their individual qualities. Learn more…

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Did you know that according to the 2020 Census:

  • 6% of Puerto Rico's population is Asian? and
  • 2% of Puerto Rico's population is Native Hawaiian/ Pacific Islander?

Learn more about the accomplishments and contributions AANHPIs have made to American culture, cuisine and well-being at

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Retired District Conservationist José Santiago

NRCS wishes a fond farewell and much luck in his future endeavors to our legendary Caguas District Conservationist, José Santiago. José retired on Earth Day,  April 22nd, after 30 years of service with NRCS.

“José Santiago will be always remembered in the Caribbean Area for his work ethic and sense of humor," said Frank Velazquez, Assistant State Conservationist for Operations. "Thank you so much for your amazing years in NRCS!”

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May 25, 2022. Application submission deadline for NWQI.

May 27, 2022. Forest Fire Prevention Workshop, 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., Hacienda la Esperanza Nature Reserve, Manati, PR. Register at:  

May 31, 2022. Application submission deadline for CIG.

May 31, 2022. Application submission deadline for Caribbean Partners for Conservation grants.

June 20-26, 2022. Pollinator Week.

July 16-19,2022. National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) Summer Meeting, Caribe Hilton, San Juan, PR.

USDA Caribbean Area


Farm Service Agency (FSA) Puerto Rico
654 Muñoz Rivera Ave., Suite 829
San Juan, PR 00918

Farm Service Agency (FSA) USVI
4401 Estate Sion Farm, Suite 2
Christiansted, VI 00820
340-773-9146 x100

Rural Development (RD) Puerto Rico
654 Muñoz Rivera Ave., Suite 601
San Juan, PR 00918

Rural Development (RD) USVI
4401 Estate Sion Farm, Suite 2
Christiansted, VI 00820
340-773-9146 x102

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) PR & USVI
654 Muñoz Rivera Ave., Ste. 604
San Juan, PR 00918-4868


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