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Cattle export dilemma

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Posted: Friday, April 17, 2020. 12:44 pm CST.

The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.

By Orlando Habet: The stopping of the exports cannot be done by the Bullet Tree chairman. He has no such Authority. He had to convince his Representative, Hon. Omar Figueroa who convinced Hon. Hulse as Minister of Agriculture. This was likely taken to the ” COVID-19 Committee (Health task force) and recommended to the Oversight committee.

That the Bullet Tree chairman is requesting monies for all exports passing through his village and accusing the police of charging/taking bribes is another matter. When he pays for the streets and roads, for the electricity and light supply, for the Bridge etc. then can he start making such demands on an industry of National importance.

The primary reason for not exporting through the official crossing is that both Belize and Guatemala were to form a joint Trade Commision as per the 2006 Partial Scope Agreement. They would look at the logistics of duties, animal and public health, transportation etc. associated with exports. The Commission has not been formed.

One such attempt for export was done through the Western border about three years ago via a dual trial arrangement. It was time consuming and not conducive to good trade. It has not been done since.

An MOU was signed a few years ago between BAHA and MAGA, the two Animal and Plant Health authorities of Belize and Guatemala, respectively. This would facilitate the export trade of cattle for fattening. (does not specify Cows and cattle ready for slaughter).

We need to move cattle officially through Guatemala. Guatemala needs beef and pork. While our officials negotiate the legal exports, we need to amplify the scope of the MOU or else cattle ready for slaughter (old cows, steers, bulls and reject heifers of slaughter weight) will move through the informal market.

I insist that upon reopening if Export of cattle and Pigs, that farmers receive a fair price for their livestock and that the distribution of sales/exports be equitable so that all farmers get an opportunity to sell and an opportunity for relief from the problems occasioned by the dry season.

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