Farmers were briefed today by Director of Agriculture, Lealao M. Purcell on certification criteria to be a supplier for the School Lunch Program.
The certification is required by the US Department of Agriculture which funds the School Lunch Program.
Towards the end of last year, the USDA set a new requirement for farmers who wish to supply produce for the School Lunch program in order to ensure safety and consistency of supplies.
About 50 farmers, mostly members of the American Samoa Farmers Co-Op attended today’s meeting at the DOA Conference room.
KHJ News spoke with Director Lealao after the briefing.
Farmers were required to register with DOA before however that was on a voluntary basis. Now registration is mandatory for all farmers who wish to bid for the School Lunch Program.
The Director of Agriculture stressed registration would make things a lot easier for the farmers if they want to be suppliers of crops, vegetables and fruits for the school meal program.
DOA will be inspecting and accrediting local farms and making sure individuals who pass themselves off as farmers have farms.
The certification will be issued on the date of inspection with a validation of 1 year only.
The department will also conduct frequent and unexpected visits to all certified farms within this year-long period.
Director Lealao said a farmer who’s cited for a minor or major violation(s) will be given a specified timeframe to fix them or they face immediate suspension or termination.
Lina Tamapua, Secretary of the American Samoa Farmers Co-op says 68 farmers are registered but many have yet to sign up.