A new milk pricing structure for Barbados, is getting closer to implementation.
During a news briefing shared this morning between Minister of Agriculture, Dr. David Estwick and Director of the Pine Hill Dairy, Richard Cozier at the company’s Pine, St. Michael offices, it was revealed that government had a $4.2 million per year cap within which it could provide support to the industry, under WTO rules. Addressing the media at the end of a tour of the dairy plant, Estwick said since government could not provide that full financial support, discussions were ongoing with the PHD, to work out the specifics of an alternative initiative, which includes a reduction in price.
“I am glad to hear there is a number that we can operate within, and we will be using the capabilities of the government and the ministry, as currently prevails, to see how best we can utilise what is available to achieve a reduction in price,” stated Cozier. “Reduction in price is something that we see as absolutely critical to move the quantities of inventory we have, not just locally, but by extension across the region to markets that we currently trade in, but could do better with, if we had a better first price to them,” added the PHD top executive.
“So those discussions are, I gather, close to coming up with a scheme that we believe would work. We have done our home work and we have an idea … where we could possibly end up, because it all depends on a combination of things; how much is school meals, how much is welfare, so when you put it all together, we have an idea of a range that we can get to market with, which would provide consumers with a tangible discount on what they currently pay,” he concluded.
However, Cozier saw this as a stop gap measure, tantamount to “stopping the bleeding.” The company director argued that one now had to deal with the “cause of the bleeding.”
That is where Cozier said, the dairy supports the restructuring of the industry, through the proposed establishment of a Dairy Control Board, “to take the relationship between processor and farmer, away from the processor and place it in the hands of an independent authority that has representation across the board. He also rejected the notion that its importation of powdered milk, was the main reason Barbadians had shifted their consumption of its produce to the imported one.
“This is a notion that somehow or the other got credence over the past year, or perhaps longer, but bears no relationship to the truth,” he asserted. “Pine Hill Dairy, over the course of its life, imported powder. We import powder primarily to make evaporated milk, which requires the level of solids, that farm fresh milk would not deliver, and even if it did, we don’t have the capability here, with the equipment, to do it,” the dairy boss emphasised.
Cozier sought to make it clear, that powder has “never found its way into fresh milk.”