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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Am. Samoa Eyes Stricter Rules For Produce Suppliers
Illegal farmers not paying taxes, using unsafe chemicals on produce

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 7, 2012) – The director of Agriculture in American Samoa says the tightening up of rules on Asian farmers is not racist, but a necessary step because many are not working within the law.

Lealao Mel Purcell says he’s concerned that Asian farmers are beginning to dominate supplying vegetables to the federally funded School Lunch Program.

He says one worry is the chemicals he suspects they use on the plants, and another is that many are not legally entitled to work as farmers in the territory and therefore not paying tax.

"Most of these farmers are not farmers per se. They came into the country as skilled workers through a store, or some other business but because some of those businesses have gone under, they haven’t returned back as the requirements are, with those that sponsor individuals. We are not banning Orientals from bringing their produce, we’re just saying to them do it right, and doing it right means to legalize themselves."

Lealao Mel Purcell says about three Asian farmers have been banned from supplying vegetables due to their pending legal status in the territory.

Radio New Zealand International:
Copyright 2012 RNZI. All Rights Reserved

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