Supervisors Approve $500,000 Agriculture Benefit Loan to Doc’s Organics
BY MARIO CONDE
The Imperial County Board of Supervisors discussed an Agricultural Benefit Program Loan Request at their Tuesday meeting.
The Board of Supervisors met at their regular meeting Tuesday to consider a loan request application from Doc’s Organics requesting $1,500,000 in funding. Doc’s Organics is requesting funding to open an organic citrus packing sheds in Westmorland. This shed initially will be used for Doc’s own organic citrus with a goal of packing organic citrus from Imperial County and beyond. The loan would be used to assist with working capital within the facility which includes salaries for up to 20 new agricultural jobs.
A subcommittee reviewed the application and recommended support for the project. A quorum of the full Agricultural Committee met with the applicant’s representative on March 13, 2017 at the special meeting and again a week later to review the application and to discuss the project. The Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve a loan in the amount of $500,000 and included a forgivable portion up to 20% if agricultural job goals are met and sustained.
The loan amount recommended to the Board of Supervisors is less than the originally requested by the applicant. The Committee reduced the amount as the ratio of jobs created to the original requested amount was low compared to other loans awarded by the Committee.
Supervisor Ryan Kelley suggested that the board give the applicant the $1.5 million since the company will have an impact for the overall citrus packaging industry in Imperial Valley.
“We’ve gone through this in the past since the Agricultural Benefit Committee in their guidelines they can only recommend up to $300,000 per project and they are recommending $500,000. We gave National Beef a $2.5 million loan and that was contrary to the recommended suggestion by the committee.” Ryan Kelley stated and added the value of crop has increased and this project feed off from that growth.
Supervisor John Renison and Ray Castillo made a motion and second to approve $1.5 million loan but Supervisor Luis Plancarte didn’t agree on the increase until they see an actual business plan that justifies the additional loan.
“The applicant is well aware of what they are able to repay and if they come back with their own accounting and business plan to justify the other half a million to us and to themselves we should considerate at that time but I feel that at this time the applicant is telling us that she can only do ten people and needs to find make up work and we’re here looking for ways to give them extra money. Based on that at this time I cannot endorse the one million dollar increase.” Plancarte stated.
Board Chairman Mike Kelley suggested continuing this for next meeting. The Board discussed the issue and agreed to give the applicant the $500,000 recommended by the Advisory Board and have the applicant come back next week to discuss if the board will give them an additional $500,000 in the future. They board also agreed to revisit the guidelines of the Agricultural Benefit Fund.