JIS News

Minister of Agriculture and Lands, Roger Clarke has dismissed reports that removing the import duties on beef will erode the local beef industry.
Speaking at the 112th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Jamaica Agricultural Society (JAS) at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston recently Minister Clarke noted that while beef and its by-products are currently in high demand, the supply is not readily available in the island. This demand, he said, is mainly driven by the hotel and patty-making industry.
“There are certain cuts of meats that we will never be able to produce enough of,” he explained.
According to the Minister, recently a delegation visited Costa Rica and found two suppliers of the commodity. However, the decision to remove the import duty for them to compete with local producers was made after consultations with the relevant agencies.
“I wrote to the Beef and Dairy Association and asked what they thought about the idea,” Minister Clarke related, and “they said to me if you are going to do it for Costa Rica you have to do it for everybody. That [Costa Rican exporters] cannot flood our Jamaica market, but if you open it to the world that is where the flooding would take place,” he elaborated.
The Minister explained that after the discussion, he received a letter from the Beef and Dairy Association indicating that they would not support the decision. He then invited the exporters to have further discussions where the details would be outlined.
Meanwhile in an interview with JIS News to address the issue, Permanent Secretary in the Agriculture Ministry, Donovan Stanberry, informed that the dialogue between the beef farmers and the Ministry will continue. He said that the Ministry would be working closely with the farmers in a bid to restore the market.
“In terms of production level both beef and dairy are at a low and the Ministry will be doing everything to restore the sector,” he reiterated adding that funding has been secured for beef and dairy farmers.
“Just this morning we engaged the industry in discussion on how we can restore our artificial insemination capacity to rapidly multiply the numbers,” the Permanent Secretary indicated.
In the short term, he stressed, the Ministry will have to determine the level of import required in order to satisfy the shortages while ensuring that the market does not become saturated.

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