Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico
Eddie Noel Torres, owner of El Huerto Farm in Santa Isabel, is an example of why Puerto Rico Farm Credit's support is vital when facing diverse economic challenges. A credit line of $200,000 as a result of a home mortgage in 2013 has been instrumental to continue expanding his agricultural operation.
Torres began his commercial relationship with PR Farm Credit back in the late 1980’s with an initial acquisition of a 5-acre farm in Coamo, in the southern region of the Island. At this farm, 4 acres are destined for avocados and his personal residence. The institution financed this transaction.
His involvement with agriculture however spans back to the early 1980’s where he worked with the Puerto Rico Land Authority in an agricultural production project for three years prior to leasing a 50-acre land in Santa Isabel for vegetable production.
At present, Torres has an agribusiness project in 142 acres leased to the PR Land Authority, dedicated to the production and harvesting of vegetables, and fruits, mainly: peppers, squash, watermelon, onions, papaya and eggplant. In addition, for the last decade, Torres has developed a greenhouse dedicated to citrus trees as part of an agreement with the PR Agriculture Department.
His most recent project are new greenhouses with controlled environment features seeking to maximize his production and increase its efficiency. These greenhouses facilitate plague control, a big threat to vegetable and fruit crops annually. Torres adds that this type of infrastructure significantly reduces the need and cost of using pesticides as well.
At a time when he faced economic challenges, he required urgent funding for his business and turned to PR Farm Credit in 2013 for a credit line. “I had been working for more than 15 years with another bank. In order to renew my existing credit line, I had to turn in all the documentation and then wait six to eight months. That was when I returned to PR Farm Credit and I am thankful for their assistance and their excellent customer service”. The credit line transaction was completed in one month allowing Torres to satisfy his business needs successfully.
Torres compared the dramatic difference between traditional banks and Puerto Rico Farm Credit. “The other bank is so much more bureaucratic. With Puerto Rico Farm Credit, if I need $25,000 for the farm operation, they evaluate and analyze my needs quickly and provide the necessary technical assistance and support. They are trustworthy.
According to Torres, traditional banking does not understand the nuances and particular needs of the agricultural and agribusiness industry. “This is not the same as managing a manufacturing plant or another type of business. If costs are increased for external reasons, as a farmer I cannot increase the price of my products automatically. If I increase $1 to my case of peppers, I will most likely be unable to sell them and they would go to waste. Commercial buyers purchase at established market prices. Private banking does not understand that model nor do they support this type of project," Torres added.