Gov. Albert Bryan on Sunday announced former St. Croix Sen. Positive Nelson as his commissioner nominee to the Department of Agriculture.
Nelson, a longtime educator and former seven-term senator for the district of St. Croix is the sponsor of the Agriculture in the Classroom Act and was instrumental in the passage of the Sustainable Agriculture Act. He is also the prime sponsor of the Virgin Islands Medicinal Cannabis Patient Care Act, which Bryan signed into law Jan 19.
“Former Sen. Nelson, as a life long educator and longtime advocate for farmers, will bring a new approach to the department,” Bryan said in a news release from Government House. “I am certain his relentless spirit and passion for teaching, coupled with his advocacy and legislative history, will cultivate a new generation of farmers who will transform our agriculture industry to become a key driver of our territory’s economy.”
As commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Nelson will focus his key initiatives around developing the Virgin Islands’ agricultural industry and creating a ready market for local foods and value-added products.
“I will endeavor to build the Virgin Islands agriculture industry to a point where we recognize food production as a matter of national security, good health, and economic opportunity,” Nelson said. “I have a vision of an Agricultural Depot which will create a ready market, processing, storage, and wholesale/retail outlets. This, I believe, will incentivize growth, consistency, and availability of local produce, meats, and value-added products.”
“I commit to bringing the VI Department of Agriculture up to the 21st century. A fresh source of food is equivalent to healthy living. I am, again, humbled but excited at being able to participate in this dawning of a new day,” Nelson added.
As commissioner, Nelson also intends to focus on employee morale, food production, water restoration, market distribution and educating the next generation of farmers, as some of his immediate priorities.
The former senator also said the would also focus on restoration of indigenous plants, and forestry.