Industry experts from New York and Puerto Rico to tour coffee, cacao and dairy farms and discuss potential business collaborations
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the first-ever Agriculture Trade Forum in San Juan, Puerto Rico. During the forum, which began today and lasts until Friday, representatives from business, government and agriculture will come together to find opportunities to facilitate trade, expand markets, and grow the economic impact of agribusiness and agritourism in New York and Puerto Rico. Additionally, forum participants will tour coffee, cacao and dairy farms and find potential for future collaboration between New York and Puerto Rico.
"New York and Puerto Rico have always had a special relationship and during the past year, we have worked hard to strengthen it to grow both our economies," Governor Cuomo said. "We launched the Office of Trade and Tourism in Puerto Rico which has already created successful partnerships and has introduced many New York State products to Puerto Rico. This Agriculture Trade Forum will build off that success and play a critical role in further developing the influence of the agriculture industry in both of our economies."
The forum builds on the growing trade relationships between New York and Puerto Rico, as highlighted by last year's opening of the New York State Office of Trade and Tourism and the New York State Discovery Center in Puerto Rico. The Discovery Center features Taste NY products and I Love NY merchandise, and marks another important step in forging partnership opportunities outlined in Governor Cuomo’s aggressive action plan launched last year.
During several meetings and informational panels, industry experts will focus on developing strategic ways to bolster economic ties between New York State and Puerto Rico. Discussions will center on existing resources and supply chains, the potential to leverage underutilized USDA funds that are currently available for Puerto Rico's farmers, and alternative distribution networks to optimize ways in which New York and Puerto Rico can work together to grow the industry.
Already, producers from Puerto Rico and New York State have made connections with retailers including Whole Foods, FreshDirect, Supermercados Econo and Walmart/Sam's/Amigo, the New York State Vegetable Growers Association have developed ties to wholesale buyers in Puerto Rico and the Brooklyn Roasting Company has begun to explore Puerto Rico’s specialty coffee market.
Groundwork has also been laid for future co-ventures between New York State juice producers and Puerto Rico's juice manufacturers, creating opportunities for New York State retailers to carry Puerto Rican foods and expand the Puerto Rican exotic foods market, which is in demand with more than 1 million Puerto Ricans residing in New York State.
One of the main participants in the forum has been the New York Food Venture Center at Cornell University which has helped commercialize over 13,000 food products since the mid-1990’s, and regularly receives over 3,000 requests for food safety consultation annually from New York farm and food entrepreneurs. Center representatives discussed best practices in food and beverage safety and standards and have committed to provide technical guidance to the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, in order to establish a similar program.
Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "Today's Agricultural Trade Forum is evidence of how much progress we’ve made in the past year, thanks to Governor Cuomo and the efforts of our Office of Trade and Tourism. Our continued work to strengthen economic ties and focus on grassroots economic development will pay dividends for New Yorkers and after today’s successful discussions, we look forward to seeing growth in trade and economic investment for our agricultural industries for years to come."
State Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, "We are very pleased to share our business practices, resources and advice with the investors, buyers and small farmers of Puerto Rico. The Agriculture Trade Forum is a great opportunity to expand on Governor Cuomo’s vision to grow New York’s mutually beneficial relationship with Puerto Rico."
Secretary Departmento de Agricultura Dr. Myrna Comas said, "This forum represents a meeting point to strengthen commercial ties between New York State and our farmers, as well as to provide investment opportunities to our island."
Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce Alberto Bacó Bagué said, Agriculture will become a powerful engine for Puerto Rico’s economic recovery. Our economic development strategy incorporates every driver of economic growth: fiscal measures, spending restraint, industrial development, investment incentives, support for existing businesses and also reenergizing our anchor industries, tourism and agriculture.
New York State Office of Trade and Tourism Director Betty Enriquez said, "This has been a very exciting year for the new Office of Trade and Tourism and we are seeing direct results from our showcasing New York State products in our New York State Discovery Center. Two of our featured products, North Fork Potato Chips and Bronx Hot Sauce found distribution throughout Puerto Rico thanks to an introduction to the product at our Taste NY store and today's forum provides a great opportunity for more partnerships and success stories."
Associate Dean for Cornell University, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Julie Suarez said, "Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Food Venture Center is privileged to help farmers and food entrepreneurs develop new products while ensuring excellent food safety compliance and quality control. Thanks to the leadership of Governor Cuomo, Empire State Development and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, today's conference is a significant step in developing Cornell’s advisory partnerships with the University of Puerto Rico, and with Puerto Rican farmers and food processors, for the food safety and training programs needed to successfully market today’s food products."
University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, Department of Agro-Environmental Sciences Dr. Fernando Pérez said: "The University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez is looking forward to working with Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the Food Venture Center. This is an important step in continuing to grow Puerto Rico’s agricultural industry."
About Empire State Development
Empire State Development is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Through the use of loans, grants, tax credits, and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I Love NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand.
For more information on the Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit http://www.regionalcouncils.ny.gov and www.esd.ny.gov.
About Taste NY
Taste NY is an initiative launched by Governor Cuomo in 2013 to promote New York’s food and beverage industries. It is overseen by the Department of Agriculture and Markets and has created opportunities for local producers to showcase their goods at large public events such as the Great New York State Fair and Super Bowl XLVIII. The program has also opened stores at highway rest stops and transportation hubs, enabling travelers to buy New York State’s homegrown and homemade products. Approximately 1,100 local companies have participated in these opportunities, further linking their products and the state’s growing food and beverage market to consumers from across the globe. For more information about Taste NY, please visit www.taste.ny.gov, or connect with Taste NY through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
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