Ramon B. Camacho has been elected to serve as chairman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Service Agency CNMI County Committee.
Camacho, who is on his third term in the committee, revealed that the county election was held yesterday via teleconference.
County committee members are elected to office by their peers and serve as the representative voice for agriculture producers in the county, and they are responsible for communicating with USDA to ensure that national programs are adapted to fit local needs. County committees are responsible for making decisions on issues including commodity loans and payments, conservation programs, disaster assistance programs, and emergency programs.
The CNMI County Committee is composed of one representative each from Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
Camacho, who represents Saipan, was nominated by Rota's James Manglona. The nomination was concurred by Tinian's Ignacio Aquilino during yesterday's election, with the presence of Tom Camacho, FSA executive director for CNMI and Guam Counties.
Camacho vowed to do more outreach programs for Commonwealth farmers, strengthening efforts to revive the islands' agriculture industry.
Camacho, who is also the chairman of the Saipan & Northern Islands Municipal Council, said his outreach programs would focus on urging farmers to take advantage of FSA's various programs.
He said that one of his recommendations on the county committee level is to teach local farmers proper accounting and bookkeeping practices.
“Farmers are not behind-the-desk people. They're out there cultivating the soil and planting their crops. So we're trying to find ways that are more convenient for the farmers so they can consolidate the receipts pertaining to farm operations every end of the year,” Camacho told Saipan Tribune.
He said he will be working with CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan who, together with Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), is pushing for the crop insurance annual fee waiver for farmers in the Commonwealth and Guam.
Camacho disclosed that the number of farmers who avail of crop insurance dropped when the $300-fee for multiple crops was increased to between $750 and $900.
“That fee is identical to mainland farmers who deal with miles and miles of farmland. Local farmers only deal with smaller acres. I'm crossing my fingers that they can amend that to benefit Marianas farmers,” he said.
Camacho's term in the committee level will expire in December.