‘Barbadian consumers may not have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for meat this Christmas after all.
That’s because the price hike which livestock farmers were to start paying for feed on Wednesday has now been put on hold until a more long-term arrangement can be established to cover future operating costs to producers.
Following the intervention of Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir, the lone feed supplier – Pinnacle Feeds Limited – has agreed not to implement the 3.7 per cent increase which the farmers would have had to pay for the commodity.
Director of Pinnacle Feeds, Jason Sambrano had announced last Friday that with Government’s temporary price support to farmers coming to an end, his company would be raising the price to farmers by an average 3.7 per cent, as opposed to the previous 8.9 per cent back in August.
Government initially invested some $2 million in price support in May this year to cover three months and then extended that subsidy for another three months ending on November 30.
But today, Minister Weir described the announcement of the price hike as “a bit premature.”
“The information that came out earlier was a bit premature in that we have been in conversation with the officers of Pinnacle and they have agreed to hold off any increases until we can settle a couple of issues and determine where we’re going in the future,” Weir told Barbados TODAY Thursday evening.
The minister said following talks yesterday and today with all the stakeholders, a number of options have been examined.
“The BAS [Barbados Agricultural Society] in conjunction with the team from my ministry are looking at triggers that we can use in order to be able to provide long-term sustainable support to the livestock industry and help them to defray any costs implications,” Weir stated.
The minister explained that the defraying of costs can be done by examining the best ways for farmers to be more efficient therefore resulting in savings that would inevitably trickle down to consumers.
“We are looking to see how we can bring about savings to the industry as a whole, so that even if the price of grain continues to be above what it was previously; and the reason why I am phrasing it this way is because the price of grain is really trending downwards, but it has not yet reached the point where it was prior to when it went up somewhere around late 2020 or mid-2020,” he said.
“I think there is hope and I am not looking for a knee-jerk reaction to this, I am looking for a long-term solution that would work for the industry,” Weir emphasised.
He told Barbados TODAY that while the parties are targeting December 6 for a final settlement on the way forward, it is likely that discussions will go beyond that date.
“So we are trying to work towards December 6 and possibly beyond to see what solutions we can come up with that would have a long-term fix rather than short-term solutions that are not sustainable,” the agriculture minister said.
He said the majority of the farmers who joined the meeting with Pinnacle management and the ministry officials were from the poultry sector.
Asked what feedback he received from the farmers on the situation, Weir replied: “I think their position is that if the feed price is supposed to go up, then it is inevitable that they would have to carry up the price of their product. I don’t find that they are too alarmed by it.”
He added: “But a number of things that I put on the table, they all are in agreement with. That is, one, we have to address issues like energy, efficiency management, water rates, those kind of things we discussed. We also looked at how we can stave off the price increase going into Christmas.
“And that is the reason why I said our conversation might extend beyond December 6, so that if all else should fail, there still wouldn’t be an increase in the price going into Christmas.”
When he made the price increase announcement on Friday, the Pinnacle Feeds director said the company aims to ensure that the sector is sustainable for local farmers, putting in long-term and short-term strategies to support customers.