The island’s sole dairy processing plan is joining dairy farmers in celebrating Government’s recently announced plans to enhance production, which is expected to ultimately result in Barbadians paying less for fresh, locally produced milk.
The incentive, which will take the form of a ten per cent cess on dairy products, was announced in the House of Assembly this week during the Estimates debate, but was first mentioned in the 2015 Budget.
Speaking at an awards ceremony during which Pine Hill Dairy honoured the top dairy farmers over the past year, former Chief Executive Officer of Banks Holdings Limited, Richard Cozier, said: “We are thrilled. It has been a long time in the making as Government was working behind the scenes to make it a reality. We believe it will benefit not only consumers, but the dairy farmers as well.”
The cess will be applied on condensed milk, flavoured milk, milk-based beverages and milk substitute beverages and the funds generated will be used to finance a grant to local dairy farmers.
The funds will also allow farmers to reduce their farm gate prices to Pine Hill Dairy, which, according to outgoing Dairy Operations Manager Lorenzo Roach, “is the highest in the western hemisphere and one of the highest in the world.
“This cess will go a long way in reducing the cost and make our dairy industry more competitive,” Roach said.
Once the cess is in place, Barbadians are expected to pay less for fresh whole milk, two per cent milk and lactose free milk.
Annette Beckett of Meka Company Limited, who won the Best Overall Milk Quality Award for 2017, welcomed the initiative, stating that “if the customers get milk cheaper, we can produce more”.
“I can also see it helping smaller producers, because once the demand increases, it will enable them to enhance their operations,” Beckett said.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society and Government backbencher James Paul, said the diary sector had been growing over the past few years, and this incentive would ensure it remained on that path.