Puerto Rico

Esther Honig / Harvest Public Media file photo

Hardly a week went by in 2018 where there wasn’t some kind of breaking agriculture, food or rural news. It was the year of the farm bill, a trade war and several food recalls.

But Harvest Public Media reporters found places to revel in some fun, too. Here are some of our favorite stories from the last 12 months.

Thursday was a somber day at the Cockfighting Club of San Juan.

The rows and rows of cubbies that usually house up to 80 roosters waiting to fight were mostly empty. On this day, only 26 birds were on display.

Miguel Ortiz, a regular at the club since it opened in 1954, said a lot of people had stayed home, depressed.

"It's because of the law that passed in the Congress," he said.

Luis Pinto lost about $300,000 worth of plantain trees, livestock, roads and fences on his farm near Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. "When I saw the desctruction, I just cried. But I said, 'The show must go on,'" he says.
Allison Keyes / NET Nebraska/FERN

One year ago, Hurricane Maria swept over Puerto Rico, bringing 150 mph winds. Nearly 3,000 people died, homes and buildings were ruined and farms were destroyed all over the U.S. territory.

According to Luis Pinto, a farmer near Yabucoa, southeast of the capital San Juan, the sound of the wind screaming through the trees “felt like the hurricane was crying.” Plantain trees were flattened on Pinto’s farm. In all, the storms caused $300,000 in damage to his crops, cattle, fences and roads.

Courtesy of Les North/MayerSeedline

Puerto Rico’s hot winter days and warm nights have played a key role in the global seed business for more than 30 years. So, the devastation wrought on the U.S. territory by Hurricane Maria in September stretches to the croplands of the Midwest and Great Plains.

Fields in Puerto Rico are used for research, development and/or testing of up to 85 percent of the commercial corn, soybean and other hybrid seeds grown in the U.S., according to the Puerto Rico Agricultural Biotechnology Industry Association.