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Imported beef continues to hurt local producers

18 January 2007

JAMAICA - Local cattle farmers continue to decry the importation of cheap beef into the island which, they complain, is hurting the sale of locally-produced meat and is threatening to further destroy the industry.

The Beef and Dairy Producers Association of Jamaica (BDPAJ) said it was not opposed to the importation of beef to meet the shortfall in local supply, but was not in support of the importation of beef - mainly for making beef burgers - "at a price which assumes an ex-factory price that is well below internationally-quoted prices.

According to Balteano Duffus, general secretary of the BDPAJ, checks with major processors in Costa Rica and Panama revealed that the price for beef burgers ranged from US$2.54 to US$2.89 per kilogram. However, he stressed that there was no evidence at this time to suggest that there was any discrepancy with the imported price and the actual price paid for the product in the Central American country.

The BDPAJ, in a release issued last week, stressed that the local cattle sector was vital to Jamaica's economic, social and environmental well-being and urged that the promised national attention to the sector's resuscitation be undertaken as a matter of priority.

Not sure of the problem

Donovan Stanberry, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, said he was not sure of what the problem was as there was no evidence to suggest that beef trimmings or any other choice cuts were being imported and sold below market prices. "We are allowing the trimmings (in) because the local market cannot supply the demand," he told Farmers Weekly.

Furthermore, Mr. Stanberry said the Veterinary Division, which grants permits for the importation of animals products, ensures that imports are done within the regulations in place to protect the local industry.

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Source: Jamaica Gleaner


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