Minister David Burch On Farming In Bermuda

July 14, 2018 | 30 Comments

Minister of Public Works Lt/Col David Burch spoke about farming in the House of Assembly on Friday, providing an overview of the situation with the Bascomes, leases on other Government plots of arable land, with the Minister noting the PLP’s pledge to “lease the many acres of government arable land that are currently not being used in order to boost domestic food production.”

The Minister said, “On July 18th, 2017, Bermuda experienced a change of Government. It was not unexpected, and so, this may sound to you like an unnecessary statement; but in order for all of us to understand what this means in terms of impact, I must start at the beginning.

“The ‘beginning’ is captured in the PLP’s Election Platform, there, we identified those things we wanted to accomplish during our term of office.

“For example we stated: Your next PLP Government will make government more efficient by undertaking a comprehensive review of the Public Service Commission legislation.” [Amendments to the Public Service Commission published just before Christmas 2016 changed the role of the Public Service Commission from an impartial appointing authority for senior civil servants to a politicized semi-executive body that will set performance goals for senior civil servants”.]

“What does this have to do with the role of senior civil servants? The civil service has an important role in readying themselves for a change whenever a General Election takes place. Usually the Secretary to the Cabinet prepares two dossiers, explaining how they will accommodate each Party’s agenda.

“Such preparation would allow a new Government, if there was a change, to be presented with a full outline of government projects currently underway, and of those still awaiting decision in each particular Ministry.

“This would enable a new Minister to determine how his/or her Ministry could accommodate the newly elected Government’s agenda.

“As you well know the relationship between Ministers and staff is unique – some would say peculiar. Ministers are not quite the same as private sector executives. Their relationship with staff is predicated on staff members’ commitment to serving the Government of the day – no matter their own personal political views.

“So it was earlier this year that I learned of a Bermudian Farmer whose lease had expired prior to the General Election in 2017. Ministers would not naturally know about this lease, or any lease, until they are presented for signature because leases come under the remit of the Estates Department.

“The fact that the Bascome family were only told in May of this year that their lease had expired 17 months ago and they were then given six months, from 1 June 2018, to leave – raises all sorts of questions.

“It would be appropriate for me to investigate why the Bascome family were not told much earlier that their lease would be up in 2017 and it would also be appropriate for me to find out why they were being given a date to relocate.

“You will be quite familiar with the circumstances that have evolved over the last two weeks – so I’ll simply cut to the chase – and report on what is new.

“I met this past Monday morning with the two Bascome brothers to discuss firsthand the situation surrounding their expired lease and their wishes going forward. In that meeting which was both cordial and instructive – we discussed the potential development of the 9 Beaches property next door and their farming plans for the future.

“We also discussed advances in farming technology to better manage the smell from cow manure and I offered and they accepted to meet with specialist technical officers in the Ministry who have some expertise in waste management and disposal. That introduction has already occurred and a meeting is scheduled for this very afternoon.

“I indicated to them that this government would not displace them or cause their business to close and that I believed there was a way forward that required discussion with my Cabinet colleagues and that I would be in further communication following and we agreed to meet again.

“That discussion took place later on Monday and I am pleased to report that Government has taken the decision and instructed the Bermuda Land Development Company who have oversight of the 9 Beaches Property to inform – up front – to any potential developer that the farm will not be moved and its presence next door must be considered with any development.

“Yesterday I informed Mr. Bascome III that the notice to quit had been cancelled and arranged to meet next week to discuss the way forward.

“By the way, Mr. Speaker, the quotes being attributed to the Bermuda Farmers Association is a very strange position for them to take when our position on local agriculture, as stated in the PLP’s Platform was to ‘Lease the many acres of government arable land that are currently not being used in order to boost domestic food production’ and to ‘Promote and develop community gardens that can assist in meeting the needs of the less fortunate in our community.’

“If this sounds to you, Mr. Speaker, like a plan to encourage more Bermudians to get into farming – or to encourage more farmers to make use of government arable land – then you would be correct!

“The PLP made a declaration of our concern for domestic food production long before anyone tried to make this an issue of dissent.

“Like the Bascome family have done; the Bermuda Farmer’s Association are also welcome to come and meet with me, so that we can talk face-to-face. Their statement that ‘all government-owned farmlands had not been renewed over the last three years’ was worthy of investigation.

“I know that not to be the case as I have signed several leases over the last year. During this time I have also approved the use of 1/3 of the Greenwich Farm to be used by the CedarBridge Academy to teach farming to students and the remaining 2/3 to the Ministry of National Security for use in their Gang Intervention Programme.

“Government has 45 plots of arable land around the country – 13 appear to have expired leases and 2 are in dispute over ownership. I have ordered a review of each of the 13 properties to determine the state of their leases.

“I also agree with the statement by Carlos Amaral, Chairman of the Board of Agriculture, that ‘the problem with farmers leases needed examination’ although I wonder out loud why it has taken 5 years for anyone to say anything?

“This Government has an extensive track record and lifelong philosophy to care for the people of this country and are always willing to find a solution to any problem. My advice though is don’t try and communicate your message to us via any means other than directly to us.

“We will not be deterred in our quest to improve the lives of every Bermudian and in spite of the constant chirping from the sidelines – we will pursue our agenda – resoundingly endorsed by a significant majority of the voters of this country,” Minister Burch concluded.

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Comments (30)

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  1. puzzled says:

    Now for Act II.

    • Hey says:

      Such BS, as the Bascomes would have been well aware when their lease ended. You have a lease, then it is accounted for in your business accounts. PLP spi.n trying to make out that they rode in on a white horse to save the day. Absolute BS. Yet some people lap up the lies and spin,PLP need to stop. Am sick of it.

      • HELLO OBAERS says:

        Why did the OBA not approve their lease under their watch….that’s the BS your stomping on…..

        • Toodle-oo says:

          Betty , the lease lapsed under the old guys and admittedly it should have been sorted out back then but talk of ‘closure’ didn’t happen until your guys came along.
          Get it right now .

    • Oh Jay says:

      “High Grade moron”

  2. Ministers…private sector executives.
    Interesting correlation…
    Interesting comparison…let me see now…
    No…bad comparison…
    You see….you are voted for and you tax your voters for income…
    Interesting indeed.
    Hey …these are our tax dollars

    .we…we ultimately decide their expenditure…remember …we voted you in and we can vote you out….it will allways be that way!

  3. Merick says:

    Actually, if we simply imported all our fresh milk, we would be rid of all these smelly cows and have a better,cheaper product. Any talk that we need fresh local milk in case of emergency is patent nonsense – we would not last a month without imported food supplies so what is losing a few cows.

    Also, does the health dept run routine tests on our local milk supply to test quality and purity. We all know what the RoundUp does to the frogs but I’ve frequently wondered what it does to the cows.

    • Going downtown says:

      Yes and put Dunkely out of business! That’s a great idea!

      • Golly says:

        Ignorance is bliss. I often hear, You can’t fix stupid. Its true

        • Real Deal says:

          i agree very stupid. basically saying give external company control of our milk they will control what goes in the milk and how much it sells for and you will have no say in the matter. foolishness

      • Alan says:

        Actually, the dairy is also a major food importer and distributor – all Pepsi products which include sodas, their Frito Lay snacks, Tropicana juices, etc. So big Mike and baby brother Stephen are not going anywhere.

        However, it still strikes me that the milk market in Bermuda is regulated in all the wrong ways and none of the right ways to the detriment of the consumer.

      • Politricks says:

        So you are advocating for political actions to destroy a private business out of your dislike for his/their political affiliations?

        Do you even hear yourselves these days?

    • Alan says:

      Wow, I never thought of it that way before. Is there any regulation at all of the dairy industry in Bermuda? It would make sense too to import extra milk rather than have our kids drink that powdered stuff.

  4. Micro says:

    Just admit you were wrong in trying to force the Bascomes out and are only back peddling now trying to pass blame because the community didn’t support what you were trying to do.

  5. Infidelguy says:

    I have a question that’s unrelated to this story. But maybe someone can answer it for me.

    Prior to the recent upgrade of the Bermuda Parliament website, http://parliament.bm, you used to be able to download the audio recordings of the House of Assembly sittings. Unless I missed it, the new website appears to not have this capability.

    Does anyone know if this is going to put back on the website or has it been permanently removed? Maybe someone in the Bernews organization can answer that for us?

    • Happy says:

      “That discussion took place later on Monday and I am pleased to report that Government has taken the decision and instructed the Bermuda Land Development Company who have oversight of the 9 Beaches Property to inform – up front – to any potential developer that the farm will not be moved and its presence next door must be considered with any development…”

      So is there a development in the works for 9 Beaches?

    • Happy says:

      Not sure why it posted that here, but it explains why it seemed to disappear when i hit submit.

      In relation to your post, i did notice that too. I’m not sure why or if it is not that way going forward. I hope not.

  6. Stevie says:

    Westover farm & the Somerset cricket club wall. A Burch call. Major backdown from him re the farm after the wall was done by OBA volunteers. Says alot for his ability to be a proper member of the PLP. But then again there is no one is proper in the PLP government. Where has the $ gone PLP. The wasted $ on trips not needed. Does local people come first? Not in the PLP’s eyes & the fools who put them in.

    • Point boy says:

      If you stay east of the farm. You have no say! What a arrogant bunch of Hippocratic bs. That’s Burch for you

    • Seriously though says:

      Stevie, I’m sorry take your med! Please

  7. A Little Wisdom says:

    More waffle to cover up more incompetence. It is also all about control and do as I say.

  8. Hair says:

    MOOOOO to you Burch, stop milking it!!!

  9. I and I says:

    Does anyone actually read the article anymore before making a comment? This is Bernews! I would say one of the few if not the only news source in Bermuda that gives a report that is factual. Read before making silly and untrue comments. If not you will end up being called the character that Shrek became friends with.

  10. SpinCycle says:

    Rent arable land… park trucks all over it! Thats the Bermuda way! If arable land is not used for arable purposes its tax rate should be considerably raised! This would encourage farming and discourage corporate misuse of resources! Not only are these people not using the land to its designated purpose, the usually ageing fleet of vehicles they have decided to part there are most likely dripping gas and oil on land that was once deemed good for its potential to grow

  11. jt says:

    He likes quads and cows but not garages and judges. Figure it out.

  12. Happy says:

    “That discussion took place later on Monday and I am pleased to report that Government has taken the decision and instructed the Bermuda Land Development Company who have oversight of the 9 Beaches Property to inform – up front – to any potential developer that the farm will not be moved and its presence next door must be considered with any development…”

    So is there a development being planned for 9 Beaches?

    • Toodle-oo says:

      *So is there a development being planned for 9 Beaches ?*

      I have discounted any rumors of an actual hotel development . However , there is a rumor involving the hospitality industry that I’d say is very plausible.

  13. cpm says:

    What if it was ‘another type’ of business?

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