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Sunday, April 26, 2020

On keeping Rhode Island agriculture alive

Senator Sosnowski lauds DEM for work in keeping fisheries, farmers, garden centers in business
About Sue • Sue Sosnowski for SenateSen. V. Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham) is thanking the Department of Environmental Management for working with her to ensure that fisheries, farmers and garden centers remain in business with necessary precautions to protect workers and consumers for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I want those who work in fishing and agriculture to know that we’ve developed policy and protocols to enable businesses to remain open during this crisis,” said Senator Sosnowski, who chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture.

“Those in agriculture and the seafood industry are struggling since the closure of restaurants and other businesses and supply chains. We want them to know that we’ve been working hard to take steps to keep business going.”

Senator Sosnowski has been in frequent contact with Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit and the Director of the Division of Agriculture Ken Ayars, as well as with the Rhode Island representative from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Rhode Island Farm Bureau and other stakeholders on all issues that agriculture and seafood industries are facing at this time.


Those issues include finding alternatives to the supply chain, how to safely open farmstands and farmers’ markets as well as issues with distribution of Rhode Island’s share of federal stimulus money. 

Senator Sosnowski is also part of a working group along with DEM and the Division of Marine Fisheries and industry stakeholders on a parallel track to ensure that the seafood industry is protected and served.

Among the emergency regulations issued by DEM are provisions temporarily allowing fishermen to make additional direct sales of their catch dockside to consumers or directly to retailers.
“At this time, both the Rhode Island seafood industry and farmers are producing food, but our supply chains have been broken,” said Senator Sosnowski.

“Please know that we are finding solutions and implementing them as quickly as possible. One of the groups has worked hard to ensure that Rhode Island’s garden centers will be able to safely open before Mother’s Day so farmers can sell the plants they have been growing for the past few months.”
Garden centers are working to accommodate the new guidelines and are scheduled to reopen on April 27.

“As we celebrate Earth Day, people around the state may be tending to their gardens. It is good to know that garden centers will soon be open again to accommodate them,” said Senator Sosnowski. “And with so many people planning to plant victory-type gardens, now is the time to support our local garden centers.”

For more on the DEM’s guidelines and response to COVID-19, see dem.ri.gov.