They say the first step on any journey
is the biggest. And while Fusion Farms has been motoring on up that proverbial
mountainside for over a year now, laying the extensive business, financial,
legal, and administrative foundations for our vertical aquaponics farm in #Mayaguez,
Puerto Rico, this past week has seen what has felt like the first step on a new
chapter of our story.
On June 30th, Kendell Lang
and Lisa Jander, the husband-and-wife team behind Fusion Farms, were officially
handed the keys to our pilot facility, a vast concrete building, which we have
leased from #PRIDCO – the Puerto Rican Development Company. There are many of
these buildings located across the island and have been standing strong, even
through severe weather events like Hurricane Maria, since they were built in
the 1960’s. It’s inside this very facility that Fusion Farms will be
establishing Puerto Rico’s first indoor vertical #aquaponics farm!
The next development that happened this
week – and this may seem like a small step but it is an extremely significant
one – is that we received our very first delivery of the equipment that will be
necessary to start and run our #farm.
The delivery consisted of two
400-gallon water storage tanks for the collection of fresh rainwater, a dual
propane gas generator with gas tanks, a specialised refrigerator for our seed
library, and a power pressure washer for cleaning. Oh, and a tractor lawn mower
to keep the yard’s thick grass in check! *Stay tuned for pictures of Lisa
riding it with a glass of wine in her hand!
These two steps – taking possession of
our #hurricane protected facility, the near future home of our vertical
aquaponics farms and receiving our first delivery of equipment – constitute the
first physical manifestations of the hard work Kendell and Lisa have tirelessly
channelled into this dream of theirs. And that dream is to establish a
hurricane protected farm on #PuertoRico that can give back to the island by
providing a reliable, locally grown source of fresh and healthy leafy greens,
herbs, vegetables, and fish.
Having recently been awarded the
maximum #solar energy grant amount from PRIDCO for the purpose of installing
solar panels, Kendell and Lisa aim to go as “green” as possible, using mostly #renewable
energy sources and rainwater to drive their farm. The assistance of a propane
power generator will ensure that, regardless of the weather or Puerto Rico’s
unstable power grid, Fusion Farms can continue to grow fresh produce.
“Doing well by doing good is our
motto,” says Kendell Lang, CEO and co-founder of Fusion Farms. “We believe that
successful businesses fulfil an important purpose and, in our case, that
purpose is to help uplift Puerto Rico’s struggling economy and combat its
reliance on imported food from the mainland. By establishing a reliable, local
source of fresh greens and fish protein that can withstand the Caribbean’s
notoriously tempestuous weather, we can play a part in getting Puerto Rico to
its feet a little faster.”
The current Fusion Farms facility,
which is based in Mayaguez, will be the first of many if Kendell and Lisa’s
pilot program is a success. Together, the couple aim to flesh out a repeatable,
scalable model for hurricane protected #vertical aquaponics farms that can be
applied to other PRIDCO buildings on Puerto Rico, on other islands in the
Caribbean, or anywhere in the world really.
“If this follows the trajectory we’re
fighting for, it’s possible that we’ll be able to establish these farms in
remote areas across the world that struggle enormously to gain access to fresh,
healthy greens and protein,” says Lisa, co-founder and
Director of Operations of Fusion Farms.
For now, we celebrate many firsts: our first
ever delivery of equipment and the first physical step towards establishing
Puerto Rico’s first ever indoor, hurricane protected, and sustainable vertical
The global population is relentlessly
expanding and the amount of free space left for agriculture is dwindling. The
solution is not to hack into the natural environment – if anything, it’s to withdraw
from it and allow it to recover. The solution, rather, is to get smart, think
outside the box, and start innovating. The following four food frontiers are
perfect examples of just that and they are paving the way forward for a healthy
and environmental and animal-friendly future.
Welcome to the Age of Aquaponics
Aquaponics is farming without the acreage. Oh, and also the pesticides, grueling dusk-to-dawn hours, and gargantuan water bill. Combining fish farming (aquaculture) and the indoor, controlled climate agriculture of plants (hydroponics), aquaponics is fast becoming a powerful solution to feeding today’s exploding populations, without putting a strain on the environment.
The fish provide the nutrient-rich
water the plants need to grow and the plants filter the water for the fish.
This all takes place in a closed, climate controlled environment that’s
typically powered by solar energy, which optimises plant success (without the
need for pesticides) and therefore yield irrespective of the weather and
Additionally, aquaponics uses a
fraction of the fertilizer, energy, labour, and water that traditional
agriculture uses and has proven an exceptionally successful way to produce
nutritious, non-GMO fruits, vegetables, and herbs in any kind of environment,
from the heart of a bustling city to the middle of a desert. The ability to set
up an aquaponics farm of any size (for a family, a community, or an entire
city), anywhere in the world is what has positioned this farming technique at the
very frontier of all the food trends
“Aquaponics is a fascinating and
sustainable method for producing healthy food with minimal impact and effort,” says
Gabriel Blanchet, an MIT student and co-founder of Grove Labs. “We believe aquaponics will play a critical role in sustainably
producing food in both developed and developing countries.”
Farms is pioneering aquaponics agriculture
in Puerto Rico.
Salads in Space
Lasagne in a tube and vacuum-packed chicken
à la king is so last century.
Nowadays, astronauts in space can turn to living gardens for fresh, healthy
greens. In 2002, students at Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory
built the Lada
greenhouse and used the Russian
Progress spacecraft to courier it to the International Space Station (ISS).
This space-friendly greenhouse provides
the perfect growing environment for seeds placed inside wick-like structures
embedded in a clay material. The clay conveys water to the roots, LED lights
mimic sunshine, and fans and air conditioners create desirable temperatures and
For now, the Lada greenhouse provides
astronauts with freshly grown vegetables and leaves and, according to Gail
Bingham, a senior scientist at the Space Dynamics Laboratory and lead engineer for Lada, a psychological break from the
barrenness of space. “It’s really hard on the psyches of the astronauts to live
in a bare container—the only living thing they encounter is the fungus in their
The system, however, can be used
anywhere and given its success in space, might offer a future food solution to
colonisation on the moon or another planet!
The sky’s the limit for vertical
In cities where there is precious little
square footage available for agriculture, vertical farming is stepping in to
offer an efficient and productive system for large volumes of fresh greens.
This technique involves stacking growing trays or racks one above the other
inside a closed, climate-controlled greenhouse. So, instead of producing a
single “storey’s” harvest, as is the case with traditional agriculture,
vertical farming produces multiple storeys of harvests.
The biggest indoor vertical farm in the world is located in Newark, New Jersey, and is set
to produce around two million pounds of vegetables and herbs each year using a
combination of LED lights and soil-less growing techniques.
Fusion Farms will combine aquaponics
and vertical farming techniques to create an optimal and exponentially more
productive agricultural system than any other on the island of Puerto Rico.
With plant-based and vegan diets
becoming “all the rage”, scientists and engineers have been hard at work trying
to develop a product that looks and tastes like meat but is 100% animal-free.
No, we’re not talking about meat substitutes created from tofu, soy, or beans
but rather a kind of protein substance created from plant materials that
replicates the satisfying experience of eating meat, without sending a single
animal to the slaughterhouse.
Many products have tried and failed to
satiate the meat-lovers’ appetite but one of the more successful of these is
Meat, which mimics the fibrous structure of
animal tissue by running a blend of plant proteins and water through an
industrial extruder. The aim of these endeavours is to reduce society’s
reliance on meat products and the environmental and ethical issues that come
hand-in-hand with the industry.
About Fusion Farms
Farms proudly operates at the food frontier by combining elements of
hydroponics, aquaculture, vertical farming, and renewable energy in a fully
contained and controlled environment to grow fresh, healthy, 100%
pesticide-free, and non-GMO vegetables, herbs, and fruits. Extensive scientific
research on looped aquaponic ecosystems has paved the way for repeatable,
scalable food production, which represents an innovative advance in the way
food supplies will be grown in the future.
Nutritional Psychiatry is Treating Mental Health
Problems with the Right Diet
Dr. Drew Ramsey, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at
Columbia University and the author of several books that address food and
mental health, is a big fan of oysters. Not because he likes to order them off
the menu but rather because they are rich in vitamin B12, which studies suggest
may help to reduce brain shrinkage. Oysters are also packed with long chain
omega-3 fatty acids, deficiencies of which have been linked to higher risk for
suicide and depression.
Given the evident connections between nutrition, the brain, and mental
health, Dr. Ramsey has largely
pioneered an emerging field of medicine that prescribes food – and the
nutrients that we are missing in our diet – to counteract depression, anxiety,
and other mental health issues. The field is termed nutritional psychiatry and
its practitioners, like Dr. Ramsey, together with chef and food coach Samantha Elkrief, counsel patients on
how better eating can ease their particular mental health challenges.
after, what you eat.
Bad diet = impaired mental health
sense that any deficiency in the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and
fats that are essential to brain health would affect its function. This
influence extends much further than simple performance (the ability to think
quickly and efficiently, for example). It also influences our mental health. It
therefore stands to reason that consuming the nutrition our brain needs to
function optimally would also improve mental health. Determining the precise
pathway this happens for each patient is, of course, the challenge that Dr.
Ramsey has taken on.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is a dominant driver of disability for Americans aged 15 to 44. And it’s Dr. Ramsey’s argument that a poor diet is a major factor contributing to this epidemic. The irony, he says, is that “most Americans are overfed in calories yet starved of the vital array of micronutrients that our brains need, many of which are found in common plant foods.”
The results of a 2017 survey published by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention reported that only 10% of adults meet the minimal daily
federal recommendations for fruit and vegetables: at least one-and-a-half to
two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day. Read full report here.
The usual approach to treating mental health issues is a combination of
pharmacological, using prescription drugs like antidepressants, and talk
therapy. The argument being made by Dr. Ramsey and other proponents of
nutritional psychiatry is that the right food choices – mostly, plant-based –
are an indispensible component of the treatment approach. Americans change the
way they eat all the time: to slim down, lower their cholesterol, and control
blood sugar levels, etc. Yet, few pay attention to diet when it comes to the
organ that requires the most energy in the body: the brain.
What does a mental health friendly diet look like?
Our understanding of the impact of diet on mental functioning is in its
infancy but studies are being conducted around the world on this subject and
the outcomes are indicating that plant-based diets are the way to go:
A 2016 American Journal of Public Health study examined more than 12,000
Australians and found that those who increased the amount of fruits and
vegetables they ate reported being happier and more satisfied with their life.
Another study of 422 young adults from New Zealand and the United States
showed higher levels of mental health and well being for those who ate more
fresh fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, the same observations did not
extend to those who consumed canned fruits and vegetables.
“We think this is due to the
higher nutrient content of raw fruits and vegetables, particularly B vitamins
and vitamin C, which are vulnerable to heat degradation,” said Tamlin Conner, a study author and
senior lecturer at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
In 2017, Felice Jacka, Professor of
Nutritional and Epidemiological Psychiatry at Deakin University, performed one
of the first randomized controlled trials to test whether diet could be used to
help treat depression. In the study, the participants who were coached to
follow a Mediterranean diet (rich in whole grains, legumes, seafood, and
nutrient-dense leafy vegetables) for three months reported mood improvements and lower levels of anxiety.
Those who received more traditional therapy showed no improvements.
“Our imaging studies show that the brains of people who follow a
Mediterranean-style diet typically look younger, have larger volumes [of
healthy gut bacteria], and are more metabolically active than people who eat a
more typical Western diet,” said Dr. Lisa
Mosconi, director of the Women’s Brain Initiative at the Weill Cornell Medical
Center in New York. Such brain benefits may be protective against the onset of
dementia, she said.
Changes you can make today
According to Mosconi, “there is no one diet that fits all” but there are
changes you can make today that will have a definite impact on whole body (and
foods from your diet. Processed foods are those that have had a series of mechanical or
chemical operations performed on it to change or preserve it, for example: frozen
pizza, microwaveable dinners, jarred sauces and gravies, deli meats, canned
Minimize meat and
dairy. Diets high in animal products have been linked to an increased risk
in heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, and cancer.
Eat more whole foods. These are plant
foods that are unprocessed and unrefined, or processed and refined as little as
possible, before being consumed. They include whole grains, tubers, legumes,
fruits, and vegetables. Fresh, fatty fish is also considered a whole food.
It’s important to remember that not everyone is the same and while a
particular diet may help improve the mental health of one patient, another
might require a slightly different approach. It’s also important to understand
that dietary changes and improvements are considered an adjunctive (add-on) to
the traditional mental health treatment approaches.
“It’s about slowing down and becoming more mindful, noticing your body
and noticing how you feel when you eat certain foods,” says Samantha Elkrief,
the food coach who assists Dr. Ramsey.
Fusion Farms is passionate about, and supports the move towards healthy,
whole food diets. For more information about Fusion Farms and to become an investor in
this opportunity, go to www.fusionfarmspr.com or
Puerto Rico is forced to
import 90% of its fresh produce because its family-run farms have been
destroyed by frequent hurricanes. A further lack of aid and awareness has left
the agricultural sector in ruins. Fusion Farms is standing behind Puerto Rican
family farmers to help solve the food crisis.
Fusion Farms is standing behind Puerto Rican
family farmers to help change their fate and that of the island’s communities. Puerto
Rico is facing a #foodcrisis and is forced to import 90% of its fresh produce
from foreign shores, paying exorbitant amounts of money for it. Furthermore,
given the often thousands of miles this produce is required to cover
(#foodmiles) and the amount of time it spends in Puerto Rican customs, its
often already beginning to rot by the time it arrives on grocery store shelves.
Puerto Rico is currently importing upwards of 90% of its organic
produce from the United States, which travels a minimum of 1,500 miles for
weeks at a time.
Food that is expensive, sub-par in quality,
freshness, and nutrition, and costly to the environment: how can bad food be a
problem on a fertile, tropical island like #PuertoRico? The answer, in part, is
the Atlantic Ocean hurricanes that have destroyed much of the island’s
agriculture. With many of these being family-run farms (and with disaster aid
from the mainland being in short supply), they have been unable to recover.
Consequently, Puerto Rico relies on imports from foreign shores.
Shipping fresh produce from abroad
poses a myriad of problems, not only for U.S. citizens on Puerto Rico but also
for the global environment.
Food miles: Every mile that
food has to travel to get from farm to plate exhausts #greenhouse gases into
the atmosphere, contributing to global environmental issues like #climatechange.
Purchasing fresh produce from a local farmers market comes with a price tag of
only a few food miles – certainly no more than 10 or 20. Purchasing “fresh”
produce from a grocery store on Puerto Rico comes with a price tag of several
thousands of food miles – often 1,000, 2,000, and more!
Freshness: Travelling from the United States, Mexico, Chile, and other
countries from where Puerto Rico receives its imports takes time – days and
weeks. Then, when it arrives in port, it’s forced to languish in customs for
further days and weeks while the usually lengthy bureaucratic processes play
out. By the time Puerto Ricans gain access to this “fresh” produce, it’s often already
in the beginning stages of rotting.
Nutrition: Fruits and vegetables rapidly lose their nutritional value with
time. Exposure to heat, light, and oxygen causes the vitamins, antioxidants,
minerals, and other nutrients to leach or degrade, which means that by the time
this produce is available for purchase, it’s lost a substantial amount of
Spinach can lose 90% of
its vitamin C content within 24 hours of harvest, and 50% of its folate and
carotenoids within a week. By the time Puerto Rico receives its imports of
“fresh” fruit and vegetables, it’s often WEEKS old. How nutritious is the food
Cost: To add insult to injury, fresh produce is substantially more
expensive on Puerto Rico because it has to be imported and because the island
remains under an archaic shipping law (the #JonesAct) that decrees that only
American-made, owned, captained, and crewed ships may serve the island.
It’s quite clear that imports are killing
Puerto Rico and delivering bad food to the U.S. citizens living here.
Thankfully, there is a solution….
Fusion Farms: Bringing Whole, Locally
Grown Fresh Produce to Puerto Rico
#FusionFarms aims to establish the Puerto
Rico’s food sovereignty and relieve its reliance on imported fresh produce by
building hurricane protected aquaponics farms on the island. Through this
method of sustainable, closed environment aquaponics (CEA), this start-up
farming initiative will establish a reliable, locally grown source of fresh
fruits, vegetables, and fish protein.
Extensive scientific research on looped
aquaponic ecosystems has paved the way for repeatable, scalable food
production, which represents an innovative advance in the way food supplies
will be grown in the future. And in few places on Earth is such a system so
desperately needed as it is on Puerto Rico.
The latest market
research report forecast by Technavio indicates
that the global #aquaponics market will grow at a compound annual growth rate
(CAGR) of more than 11% between now and 2023, representing an incremental
growth of $411 million. One of the key drivers for this market is the growing
inclination towards controlled environment farming in the global community.
Technavio is a leading
global technology research and advisory company that focuses on emerging market
trends and provides insights to help businesses identify opportunities and
develop effective strategies to optimize their market positions. Their report
serves as a valuable indicator that #ControlledEnvironmentFarming techniques
like aquaponics is the way of the future and, for those with the necessary
foresight, a potentially lucrative investment opportunity.
What is Controlled
farming or agriculture (#CEA) is the process of growing plants inside a
greenhouse or a grow room, where all atmospheric and environmental variables,
such as humidity, temperature, nutrients, pH levels, light, etc. can be
controlled. Aquaponics is one such method of CEA that leverages the natural
relationship between fish and plants to grow crops all year round, out of soil,
and in the nutrient-rich wastewaters produced by the fish.
“As aquaponics does not
require soil, the plants can be grown on rooftops, rocky surfaces, and other
dry areas,” explains a senior analyst at Technavio for research on agricultural
What this means is that
aquaponics farming can become a successful source of fresh, healthy,
sustainable food (both plant and fish protein) in most environments and remote
locations on Earth, provided there is a sufficient energy and water to feed the
The Way Forward
The benefits of CEA are
that growing conditions can be optimized to produce the best possible harvest
in any environment, often without the use of pesticides, herbicides, hormones,
and other undesirable additives. It also optimizes the use of space – since
crops can be grown in vertical rack systems, one on top of the other – and labor, water, energy, nutrients, and
cost of operating, while still producing a bountiful harvest.
In essence, controlled
environment farming is the way forward for a planet that is fast becoming
over-populated and running out of the fertile lands and natural food resources needed.
It’s a way we can cater for the increasing food demand without further damaging
the environment. In fact, it reduces our current exploitation of land and
resources, while also drastically reducing food miles, our carbon footprint,
aquaponics market: About the Report
The global aquaponics market research
report by Technavio provides
an in-depth analysis of the prominent factors influencing the market, including
drivers, opportunities, trends, and industry-specific challenges. The report provides
market segmentation by application (aquaculture and hydroponics), technique (Deep
Water Culture (DWC), Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), and media-filled bed), and
by region (the Americas; Europe, Middle East, and Africa; and Asia-Pacific).
Another of the report’s
significant findings was that the Americas held the largest share of the global
aquaponics market in 2018, accounting for close to 53% share, followed by EMEA
and APAC respectively. The region is expected to continue to dominate the market
during the forecast period of 2018 to 2023. It also found that the market is
highly fragmented with many players occupying the market share.
Fusion Farms Puerto Rico and Aquaponics
Technavio’s latest report on the global aquaponics market is particularly significant to the work start-up organization Fusion Farms is doing in #PuertoRico. Located in the beautiful Mayaguez district of Western Puerto Rico, Fusion Farms is making use of existing PRIDCO facilities to sustainably grow a year-round harvest of fresh, and 100% pesticide-free produce grown from organic seed that is high in local demand. The concrete facilities themselves are hurricane protected, which is essential on a Caribbean island that lost vast tracts of farmland to devastating hurricanes in the past few years and that continues to import upwards of 80% of its fresh produce as a result.
Through its aquaponics
venture, Fusion Farms aims to restore #FoodSovereignty to Puerto Rico and,
should the model prove to be successful, will export the concept to similar
nations across the globe; nations that are struggling to establish a local, #sustainable,
and reliable harvest of fresh produce and fish protein due to environmental,
political, and/or social problems.
With innumerable trials and obstacles safely behind them, the husband-and-wife team behind the hurricane-protected #aquaponics farming initiative, Fusion Farms, can finally celebrate a well and hard-earned success. This coming Tuesday, May 21st 2019, Kendell Lang and Lisa Jander together with the island of Puerto Rico will be celebrating at a Press Conference at their pilot facility in Mayagüez, and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares will be attending.
dream long in the making
their first visit to the spectacularly beautiful Caribbean island several years
ago, Kendell and Lisa have dreamed about moving to #PuertoRico and establishing
a sustainable agricultural initiative that would – in some way –contribute to
the island’s recovery. In 2018, they made the move from San Diego, California
and after more than a year of hard toil against the monumental tasks of
fund-raising and interpreting government grants and incentives, and completing bank
applications, they managed to secure the first Fusion Farms facility in Mayagüez,
a municipality in western Puerto Rico. With the help of #PRIDCO, #USDA and the
Department of Agriculture, to name a few, Fusion Farms is well on the way to
pioneering a sustainable indoor agriculture model for the island.
Press Conference and Incentive Awards
The Press Conference and Incentive Awards are scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 21st 2019 at 1:30 PM where community members will be able to see the vision for the indoor farm.
“We are pleased to announce that Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares is scheduled to come to the Fusion Farms facility in Mayagüez,” says CEO and co-founder Kendell Lang. “He will be doing a site visit, tour of the building, presentation, and award the solar energy grant to officially welcome Fusion Farms to Puerto Rico.” “Fusion Farms is proud to be at the forefront of what the Department of Economic Development is incentivizing for innovative agriculture solutions, specifically our hurricane-protected aquaponic vertical farm.”
in attendance will be the Secretary of the Department of Economic Development
and Commerce, who will be discussing their delivery of $9 million USD to the Programa de Hidroponicos (Program of Hydroponics)
and Pymes Innovadoras (Innovative
Small to Medium Enterprises) in an effort to advance the agriculture sector of
“Fusion Farms is excited to create jobs and work with the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Department of Agriculture. By working together, we can address the needs of the community and begin to establish food security for the island. The current incentives offered to all farmers are making it possible for agriculture to thrive,” says Lisa Jander, co-founder and Director of Operations of Fusion Farms. “We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity and look forward to welcoming everyone to our new facility!”
attend, please visit the Facebook Event page, click “Number of Spots”, and then “Reserve”
to secure a spot at this ground-breaking ceremony.
About Fusion Farms
“Cultivando buena comida para buenas personas”
“Growing good food for good people”
Fusion Farms is the first indoor aquaponic
farm of its kind on the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. The concept seeks to
transform the unused Puerto Rico Industrial
Development Company (PRIDCO) buildings that are scattered across the island
into hurricane-protected, vertical #aquaponic farms. Within this contained and
controlled environment, vegetables, micro-greens, and herbs can be grown and
supplied to the island, greatly reducing its dependence on imported fresh
produce. Furthermore, Fusion Farms will be able to supply a fresh, #sustainable
source of fish protein, since Tilapia are an essential component of
In 1920, Congress passed a law designed to encourage American prosperity after World War I. Unfortunately this act has, since, had the opposite effect and in few other places is this detrimental effect felt more profoundly than the unincorporated American territory and island nation of #PuertoRico.
The Jones Act as it was called – named after its sponsor, Senator Wesley Jones, from Washington State – has allegedly done immeasurable damage to Puerto Rico’s economy. If a figure were to be supplied, it would be in the region of $1.5 billion, according to an article by Caribbean Business.
In this article, we’ll take
a closer look at the #JonesAct, its economic and environmental impact, and
what’s currently been done to undo this outdated legislature.
What is the Jones Act and
why is it Damaging Puerto Rico?
Almost 100 years ago, the
Merchant Marine Act of 1920 was passed by Congress and enacted into law.
Section 27 of the Merchant Marine Act is known as the Jones Act and it stated
that all goods transported by water between ports in the United States and its
territories (of which Puerto Rico is one), be carried on American-flagged ships that are American-built, American-owned, and are
substantially crewed by American citizens.
The intention of this act
was to encourage American trade, commerce, prosperity and naval prowess after
World War I, which makes sense in theory. However, #theJonesAct has had several
unintended consequences. Predominantly, the costs of transporting merchandise from the U.S. mainland to Puerto
Rico in American built, flagged, owned, and run vessels are much higher.
Additionally, Jones Act ships aren’t always available and are not always able
to supply the goods/volume of goods Puerto Rico requires.
Overall, the Jones Act has:
Reduced waterborne coastwise trade (because it’s ships
are so expensive)
Harmed the environment (because there is a preference
for cheaper land freight, as well as trade originating from further afield,
from foreign countries),
Measurably harmed the economy of Puerto Rico, not only
because of steeper consumer prices but also because there aren’t always Jones
Act vessels available to ship the goods Puerto Rico needs to import.
In spite of this, this
outdated law remains in effect and continues to limit the ability to ship
products by water throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
other U.S. states have the option to transport produce by land, Puerto Rico,
being an island, is forced to make use of Jones Act ships, should it wish to
ship produce in from the mainland. According to two
independent investigations, this has cost Puerto Rico $1.5 billion in higher
prices for goods, as well as in its effect on competitiveness and lost jobs.
The report was compiled by Advantage
Business Consulting (ABC), which was hired to
investigate the true cost of transportation from both the mainland United
States and the various international ports with which Puerto Rico frequently
trades. ABC sent out a survey and of the companies contacted, a significant 70
percent responded, which demonstrates the keen interest of importers with this
issue. The results of the survey were surprising,
although not entirely unexpected.
Rico pays 151% more to transport goods from American ports than from foreign
What it found was that transporting containers from the United States costs, on average,
2.5 times or 151 percent more than transporting from foreign ports. For
example: shipping a container from the U.S. East Coast to Puerto Rico
costs $3,063 but shipping the same
container to nearby Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic costs only
$1,504; and to Kingston, Jamaica, $1,607. This is because they’re not using
Jones Act ships. These figures were arrived at after corresponding adjustments for
size of container and distance.
this data, ABC then calculated an impact equivalent to a Jones Act tax of 7.2 percent on food and beverages alone,
which translates into an increase of $367 million in additional costs to the
local economy. In other words, food and beverages on Puerto Rico cost $300 and
$107 more respectively per person, thanks to the Jones Act.
second independent study performed was done by the New York firm, John
Dunham & Associates (JDA). Having worked for
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority of
Philadelphia, and the Ports and Commerce Department of the City of New York,
Chief economist John Dunham has extensive experience in the maritime transport
report read: “All the calculations concluded that there was a significant
impact. From this analysis, the firm chose and adapted the sources to make
their own recommendation, concluding water transportation costs to Puerto Rico
are $568.9 million higher, and prices are $1.1 billion higher than they would
be without the Jones Act limitations.”
further impact of this is on jobs for Puerto Ricans.
this is the case, Puerto Rico has 13,250 fewer jobs than it would have were
there a free market for ocean freight,” says John Dunham. “Those jobs would pay
residents $337.3 million in wages and would result from nearly $1.5 billion in
increased economic activity.”
said that overall tax revenue would be $106.4 million more were the island to
be exempt from the Jones Act’s provisions.
The Jones Act doesn’t only
deliver a blow to business’, consumers’, and the economy’s pockets… owing to
this legislation, Puerto Rican businesses have limited viable shipping options,
which has compelled them to purchase more from foreign countries. In fact, many Puerto Rico companies opt to
import goods from Canada rather than from the United States in order to avoid
the cost premium from the Jones Act. Additionally,
the island, imports almost no heavy cargo from the U.S. since ships are not
available to carry it. And with goods having to cover longer distances
by other modes of travel, particularly land transport, Puerto Rico’s #carbonfootprint
is unavoidably large.
The road forward
the results of these two economic studies, we have enough data to demand that
we be heard here as well as in the United States Congress,” says president of
the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce, Kenneth Rivera. “The numbers are clear,
the impact is devastating for the economy of our island and even more so being
as vulnerable to natural disasters such a as #HurricaneMaria.”
Salvatella, president of the Puerto Rico Restaurants Association, has also said
that Puerto Rico’s food security is directly tied to its “extreme dependence”
on imports: “We had great difficulties in meeting our clients’ needs, to the
point that one of our partners had to import food by plane at a cost 10 times
higher than what it would have cost by sea due to the lack of service.”
And so, rather than achieving any of the goals set forth in
1920, the Jones Act has severely hampered the development of the merchant
marine and shipbuilding industries in the United States. It’s time for change.
It is Fusion Farm’s mission to bring about change by re-establishing local agriculture (in hurricane-protected facilities) and reducing Puerto Rico’s dependence on food imports.
Lisa and I were able to attend the “Puerto Rico is Open For Green Business” Summit at the San Juan Convention Center today, so it was exciting to hear all the opportunities Puerto Rico has to turn around the devastation from Hurricane Maria to an opportunity to set a new course for the Island.
Here are some pictures of our time at the event:
This is me with HON. RICARDO ROSSELLÓ NEVARES the Governor of Puerto Rico:
This is me with ON. TANIA VÁZQUEZ RIVERA the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources
This is me with RODRICK MILLER the Chief Executive Officer of Invest Puerto Rico.
This is Lisa with Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares.
Puerto Rico’s farmers and
communities desperately need the Farm
Aid Festival; they deserve the #FarmAid
Puerto Rico has barely
recovered from the devastation of Hurricane Maria and is forced to import 85%
of its fresh food, which simply isn’t fresh or nutritious by the time it
arrives. Puerto Rico needs awareness, investment, and aid; it needs Farm Aid to come to the island and you
can help simply by picking up the phone, dialing 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243) and asking founders Willie
Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp to bring their Festival to Puerto Rico.
You can also reach them at 617-354-2922
from 9am to 5pm EST, fill out the Online
Request for Assistance Form,
and/or send an email to email@example.com to make the same request.
Fusion Farms is standing with Puerto Rican Family Farmers and working to bring the Farm Aid Festival 2019 to Puerto Rico. Join us in reaching out to the Farm Aid Organization and let’s let them know how much of an IMPACT they could bring to Puerto Rican Family Farmers. Puerto Rico deserves to be supported by Farm Aid and after 30 years of Festivals all over the country, it’s time that Puerto Rico was given the boost it so deserves!!!
Please call 1-800-FARM-AID (1-800-327-6243) to speak with a Farm Aid staff member and ask them to schedule the next Farm Aid Festival in Puerto Rico.
You can reach Farm Aid at 617-354-2922 from 9 am to 5 pm eastern.
When hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma devastated the Gulf Coast states in 2015, Farm Aid mobilized to respond to the emergency needs of family farmers. Within days of Katrina’s impact, Farm Aid sent emergency grants and truckloads of donated food to farm families in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi and sponsored five trainings to enable farmers to access federal disaster programs. When hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, we did not get a Farm Aid Festival, but now it’s time!
To be put on the list for ticket reservations, please send email to CEO@FusionFarmsPR.com and you’ll be the first to get notified of tickets if, as and when they become available.