by Emmanuel Joseph

phdThe Pine Hill Dairy has warned farmers of criminal prosecution, if they trespass on its property for the purpose of dumping raw milk.

In a strongly-worded letter addressed to chairperson of the Dairy Farmers Representative Committee, Annette Beckett, the PHD’s General Manager, William Haslett, made it clear that his company would regard any attempt to enter its property at The Pine, St. Michael to dump milk, as an unauthorised entry.

The correspondence, dated January 18 and copied to Commissioner of Police Darwin Dottin, the Station Sergeant at District “B” Police Station and the President of the Barbados Dairy and Beef Producers Association, Haslett explained that the company had taken this firm position, based on threats made at recent meetings by some farmers.

“We regret that we feel compelled to write to you [Beckett] about certain threats which were made at recent meetings involving PHD management and members of the dairy farming community, namely that should PHD fail or refuse to collect raw milk from farmers that exceeded agreed quota levels, those farmers would transport the†milk to PHD’s premises and dump it there,” the general manager wrote.

“The dumping of raw milk in and around PHD’s premises, would likely cause a nuisance to our employees and other visitors and might raise certain health and sanitation concerns.”

The dairy boss said the company wished to register its strong objection to any such proposed action being taken by dairy farmers.

“While we understand that farmers are disappointed by the drastic reductions in intake, which economic circumstances have forced PHD to implement, we remain surprised at this threat and certain related allegations we’ve seen in the media, which have been attributed to members of the farming community,” he declared.

The PHD general manager reasoned that his company had consulted with farmers at every stage of this process, and continued to do so.

“Indeed,” the top executive noted, “several initiatives which would be considered prudent from a strictly commercial point of view, have been delayed or modified on account of the social concern which PHD maintains for the survival of the dairy industry as a whole.

“However, the fact is that PHD is a public company answerable to its shareholders and must take decisions which reflect its commercial realities and future viability.”

He warned that the dairy would also prosecute farmers who “trespassed” on its premises to engage in any other protest action.

“For the purpose of the Trespass to Property (Reform) Act, Cap, 155B of the laws of Barbados, and other relevant legislation, the dairy farmers are hereby put on notice not to trespass on the premises for this, or other related purpose,” insisted Haslett in the letter, a copy of which had been obtained by Barbados TODAY.

“You are also advised that PHD management will pursue the criminal prosecution of any person who trespasses on its property for the purpose of creating a nuisance in this, or any other way, to the fullest extent of the law.”

He said he hoped that “all elements” of the dairy industry would continue to work toward the resolution of the challenges currently facing both parties, in a responsible and cooperative manner.

Meanwhile, the Dairy Farmers Representative Committee is scheduled to meet with the Pine Hill Dairy on Wednesday to try to stave off the 43 per cent cut in milk quota, which is due to be implemented February 1.

When contacted, Sophia Cambridge, Public Relations Manager for the Banks Holdings Group of Companies, which includes PHD, confirmed that a letter was sent to the Farmers Representative Committee regarding the potential dumping of milk on its premises.

Cambridge said the dairy was doing all in its power to forge an amicable solution to the present milk crisis and that any action which would inflame the situation, was not in the interest of either party at this time. emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb†

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