18 Feb 2014

American Samoan farmers complain to government over new licence rules

10:54 am on 18 February 2014

Some farmers in American Samoa have complained to lawmakers about a new government policy which enforces them to have a business licence and register with the Agriculture Department.

The senator Faletagoai Tuiolemotu says he has received many complaints about the move.

He says farmers survive on what they grow and and it's not right for the government to now force them to pay a fee and later probably taxes.

But the Commerce Department director, Keniseli Lafaele says business licenses and permits are only required for farmers who sell produce to the Department of Education, as part of the federally-funded school lunch program.

The Agriculture Department director Leala Mel Purcell says there's a federal regulation requiring farmers selling to the school lunch program to register their names and farms.

Lealao says the rule means his office has data on the number of farmers in the territory, including the actual number of foreigners, mostly from Asia, who are possibly operating farms outside their work permits.