Ukraine Government, President Spar Over Meat

UKRAINE - The Ukraine government said on Thursday it planned to boost meat output and stop imports next year.
calendar icon 24 August 2007
clock icon 2 minute read

The Ukraine government said on Thursday it planned to boost meat output and stop imports next year, but President Viktor Yushchenko's chief of staff said government policy was liable to destroy the industry.

Agriculture and food prices are among a host of issues on which the government and president, locked for months in a power struggle, are confronting each other as the ex-Soviet state prepares for early parliamentary elections next month.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Petro Verbytsky said Ukraine imported 232,000 tonnes of meat in 2006, mostly poultry, and planned to reduce the figure to about 200,000 this year.

"If we maintain the current pace of the rise in livestock numbers, we will be free of meat imports by the end of 2008," Verbytsky told a news conference.

He said the number of cows has risen by 8 percent so far in 2007 compared with the same period of 2006, while pig numbers rose by 6 percent. Poultry numbers climbed by 24 percent.

Ukraine consumes about 3 million tonnes per year and Verbytsky said output could rise to 2.75 million tonnes in 2007 from 2.5 million in 2006, cutting the need for imports, which come mostly from the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Europe.

But presidential chief-of-staff Viktor Baloga said imports were in fact on the rise and that, combined with low purchasing prices, they posed a serious threat to Ukraine's meat industry.

"Ukrainian producers are, in effect, being pushed out of their own market," Baloga said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.

Baloga said meat imports had climbed 40 percent in the first half of 2007 and efforts to ban "tolling", allowing imports to enter Ukraine free of taxes and duties, had had little effect.

Source: Javno
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