Minister of Agriculture Indar Weir says he plans to investigate pig farmers’ claims that an abundance of imported pork is threatening the local industry.
In a brief interview with Barbados TODAY this morning, the Minister appeared unaware of the farmers’ concerns, which were highlighted in the media yesterday at a news conference held by the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS). He explained that he now has to conduct a thorough assessment of the extent of pork imports and their impact on the local sector.
Weir said: “It is a matter that I have to now investigate, and I would prefer to not speak to it at this time.
“I have to first speak to the technical people at my ministry and I also have to speak to the Ministry of Commerce as well.
“So, until then I cannot make an informed comment on the issue.” The Minister spoke on the sidelines of a fish silage workshop conducted by the Argentine Embassy to Barbados.
At a news conference at BAS headquarters, representatives of the Pig Farmers Association along with BAS Chief Executive Officer James Paul called on Government for urgent intervention, contending that the very survival of the local industry depended on it.
Farmers complained of a glut on the market and heavily depressed sales. They claimed that most of the pork flooding the market is coming from the United States and Germany.
One pork producer’s sales of slaughtered pigs fell from 40 per week to eight per week, they said. In another case, the decrease was from 100 per week to between 60 and 25 over the same period.
When Barbados TODAY asked Paul this morning if he had officially broached the matter with the Minister of Agriculture before going to the media, he revealed that while he had not done so he had written to Government on the issue “months ago”, without a response.
He also told Barbados TODAY that the glut goes beyond the Ministry of Agriculture, as it also raises foreign trade concerns, which may need to be addressed by policymakers.
“The government department responsible for foreign trade is the one that I really need to write to, and I intend to do so in the coming weeks. I do not intend to sit back while the local farmers suffer,” Paul declared.