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Discussions taking place yesterday at Pine Hill Dairy. From left: PHD representatives BHL Production Planner Christopher Linton, acting General Manager William Haslett, BHL Chief Finance Officer Geoffrey Marshall, Farm Liaison Officer Jeremy Brereton, BHL Legal Counsel Cherie Jones, BHL Chief Commercial Officer Ray Chee-A-Tow, BHL CEO & Managing Director Richard Cozier, Group Public Relations Officer Sophia Cambridge, President of the Barbados Dairy and Beef Producer’s Association Brian Allan, head of the Farmers’ Committee Annette Beckett, President of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul, and dairy farmers and members of the Farmers’ Committee MacDonald Stevenson and Barry Bishop.

 
   

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Dairy farmers get reprieve on quota reduction

1/1/2013

The Pine Hill Dairy’s milk intake from local producers will continue at the current 25 per cent reduction in quota – at least for the month of January.

This latest development was announced in a joint statement issued by Brian Allan, President, Barbados Dairy and Beef Producer’s Association; James Paul, CEO of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) and Richard Cozier, CEO of Banks Holdings Ltd. (BHL), PHD’s parent company, following a meeting yesterday between the PHD and members of a Farmers’ Representative Committee headed by Mrs. Annette Beckett, and comprising Mr. Allan, dairy farmers Barry Bishop and MacDonald Stevenson, along with Mr. Paul.

But despite compromises on both sides, there will be a substantial financial loss to both the Pine Hill Dairy and dairy farmers during the agreed-upon period. If at the end of January, there is no Governmental intervention, both sides will be forced to revert to their original positions.

Last Friday, farming representatives held a press conference to air their concerns about a PHD’s plans to reduce their quota by 43 per cent effective today, January 1. At that time, Allan had noted that from January 15, excess production would have to be dumped. “…Milk will be going down the drain. These are the cold, hard facts,” he said.

However, following yesterday’s meeting, just one day shy of the deadline, an agreement was reached that gave temporary reprieve to the farmers.

However, it was also clarified that the Pine Hill Dairy would not take any milk in excess of the total adjusted quota from dairy farms during the month of January.

The industry, which is said to save Bds$17 million dollars in foreign exchange annually, was faced with a 25 per cent quota cut earlier in 2012, and today’s impending deadline for a further reduction incensed farmers, who felt they were being penalised for poor management decisions at the PHD.

Following this latest agreement, the parties have committed to “make every possible attempt” to again interact with the Barbados Government to address the current issues relating to assistance for the dairy industry as outlined and accepted by Minister of Agriculture, David Estwick in August 2012, and subsequently by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart in September 2012.

Both the PHD and the farmers highlighted the need for Government and consumers to ensure the survival of the industry and to support their efforts to supply “first-class milk products”.

“This situation can be averted by swift Governmental intervention to buffer the industry; and an increase in the consumption of pasteurized milk by Barbadian consumers,” read the statement.

“Both dairy farmers and the Pine Hill Dairy abhor the idea of dumping wholesome Barbadian milk and are seeking to avert such a circumstance at all costs.” (YA)

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