Posted: Friday, April 23, 2021. 5:56 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: “Today 450 animals were vaccinated and are being prepared to be exported through the Northern border to Mexico,” Principal Agricultural Officer Belarmino Esquivel said to BBN. “They are being quarantined for 21 days so in a month’s time we should be exporting 450 animals to Mexico.”
The animals are being quarantined at the ranch of farmer Johan Wall at Cacabish in Shipyard.
Dr. Miguel DePaz, Chief Veterinary Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture said the animals have to be prepared to meet the import requirements set by Mexico’s Senasica, similar to the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA)
Today the cattle were given a series of vaccinations for anthrax, fever, influenza, infectious rhinotracheitis, viral bovine diarrhea, and leptospirosis.
During the 21-day quarantine, they will be tested for tuberculosis and brucellosis.
So far, according to Minister of Agriculture Abelardo Mai, over 20,000 animals valued at nearly $30 million have been exported.
Cattle exportation now is second to sugar in northern Belize.
“Previously we exported 141 heads in September and 606 in December,” Esquivel said.
Esquivel said that Wall has the facilities, the pasture, and the corrals, to keep the animals in quarantine.
“The objective is for him to be certified as a rancher for the export market. We’re trying to get him certified so that he becomes the rancher who has the ability to buy from other farmers and have [the cattle] quarantined in his area,” Esquivel said.
While Belize has exported to SuKarne company in Mexico, Esquivel said Minister Mai has taken the lead to meet with other buyers in Mexico as well and that better prices have been negotiated for Belizean cattle.
“Initially, farmers were being paid 68 cents US per pound, and the price right now that we’ve been able to negotiate is over 80 cents US per pound for animals that are not more than 800 pounds, live weight – 82 cents for the female and 90 cents for the male animals,” Esquivel said.
The reports said Dr. Joe Myers, BAHA veterinary officer in Orange Walk, is leading the implementation of the quarantine protocols in Shipyard in preparation for next month’s export to Mexico.
Esquivel said that the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade are trying aggressively to pursue the export market, primarily for the foreign exchange and these prices mean more money in the farmers’ pockets.
Esquivel said the Ministry of Trade is negotiating a partial-scope agreement with Mexico like the one we already have with Guatemala. Under a partial-scope agreement, a number of products are identified by the signatory countries and the tariffs on those products are either removed or reduced.
Belize is also looking to renegotiate the partial-scope agreement with Guatemala and expects to continue formal exports of cattle to Guatemala. To that end, government representatives met with cattle producers in Blue Creek today.
“The Ministry of Trade in close collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Livestock Producers Association, we had a wider consultation with the Spanish Lookout Cattle Producers and the Blue Creek Farmers primarily to discuss the Belize-Guatemala partial-scope agreement which was signed in 2006 and entered into effect in 2010,” Esquivel said.
“We’re basically looking at the fostering and strengthening of bilateral trade, economic and political relations with Guatemala. The idea is to facilitate, promote, diversify, and expand trade in goods. This particular session was to look at cattle, how much live cattle and cattle products can be included in the agreement.”
Esquivel said the government is reviewing and updating the partial-scope agreement and negotiations with Guatemala are to start soon.
“That’s why we had that wider consultation with the cattle producers to get their input as to what products, as pertains to cattle, can be included in the agreement,” Esquivel said.
Both Esquivel and DePaz said that there have been formal cattle exports to Guatemala. The advantage of exporting to Guatemala right now is that under the partial-scope agreement, Belizean cattle farmers don’t have to pay export tariffs to Guatemala. That being the reason Belize is looking to enter a similar agreement with Mexico.
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