Government has renewed an agreement to subsidize the local poultry industry in a move that will reduce, but not eliminate the threat of exponential price increases for the next three months.
Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir revealed that after meeting on Wednesday with numerous stakeholders, including Pinnacle Feeds, Cabinet agreed to continue a three-month price support mechanism that ended at the start of the month, triggering a 26 per cent increase in the price of feed.
After successfully convincing the country’s lone feed manufacturer to reduce the hike to 19 per cent, Government agreed with the requests to restore the subsidy that would keep feed prices at an average of 11 per cent.
“Pinnacle has dropped to an average 11 per cent… and the Government has agreed to continue the support to the livestock farmers by helping them to defray the increased cost of feed for another three months and we are looking at options to come back to Cabinet to determine how we can look at a more sustainable approach toward protecting the livestock subsector, simply because the way the world is trending, everything is going upwards,” Weir told a press conference.
“When it comes to increases in prices, it’s flexible with the prices going up, but it is always sticky to get them to come back down, and being cognisant of that, we are looking at programmes and options that can be put in place to assist the livestock sector rather than a reliance on price support,” he reiterated.
Earlier this week, Chickmont Foods Limited, the country’s largest supplier of poultry, revealed that the price of chickens and eggs would be increasing, in response to a 22 per cent increase in the price of feed.
Officials have since promised to reduce their prices accordingly, once the payments from the Government are made, but stressed that even with the subsidy, prices would not return to previous levels.
In response, the Minister revealed that Pinnacle would only be paid for feed that has been sold and their records assessed by the Ministries of Finance and Agriculture.
“What is really important is that we are putting in price support for the farmers. Government will pay, but we have to follow the payment mechanism because we can’t just take up money and pay without first putting a system in place that guarantees that we are paying for the feed that was sold,” said Weir.
He added: “The narrative has been around Pinnacle and that is not where my focus is at all. My focus is on the livestock farmers of Barbados. So, given the fact that Pinnacle as a business and private entity considered increasing its prices, we determined as Cabinet that we needed to support our livestock farmers and we were able to work with Pinnacle to bring down the price further.”