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by Emmanuel Joseph

bottleandglassofmilkA long-term subsidy from Government for dairy farmers or a price hike to consumers.

These are the option which President of the Barbados Dairy and Beef Producers Association, Brian Allen, told Barbados TODAY, this morning, are facing the industry.

Allen, who is also part of the four-member Dairy Farmers Representative Committee, said the body was now awaiting word on a date to meet with the Ministry of Agriculture to see if it could provide that subsidy.

He said the Pine Hill Dairy would join the committee in discussions with the ministry, which he hoped would take place between Thursday or Friday.

“The Pine Hill Dairy said if we don’t get that subsidy, they would have to raise the price of milk products to the consumer,” Allen added.

“Our sales would also drop. The subsidy would save the industry, the Pine Hill Dairy would be able to make a profit and the farmers would also be able to make a profit too. Right now, we are only breaking even.”

The director of the Barbados Agricultural Society added: “The farmers don’t intend to put up their prices at all, but the Pine Hill Dairy has to increase theirs, if we don’t get the subsidy. The dairy said they are continuing to lose money and can’t continue at the current rate.”

He told this newspaper the farmers had already taken a $100,000 cut in their farm gate prices and there was nothing more they could do with respect to assisting the PHD.

The dairy industry spokesman disclosed that five farmers would have to dump milk this month because they would produce in excess of the reduced quota stipulated by the dairy.

Allen announced that the farmers were now undertaking a assessment of what it would cost to produce a litre of milk across the board. He suggested that the price to the farmers had remained at one level for the past two years while the cost of feed and utilities had gone up.

“That long-term subsidy is critical, failing which consumers will have to pay more (for milk). There would be further cut in our milk quotas and even further strain on farmers,” said the veteran farmer.

Allen also complained that all farmers had not received their VAT returns since 2010, explaining that all farmers were zero-rated. While not in a position to put a total figure on the VAT owed, he disclosed that some farmers were due as much as $60,000.

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