GOAT AND sheep farmers from all districts will descend upon the presidential palace tomorrow to demand state support to cope with rising prices of animal feed and the full amount of subsidies owed them.
Head of the Paphos goat and sheep farmers association Evagoras Chrysanthou said yesterday: “We demand the immediate payment of the ‘per animal’ subsidy in its entirety and not the 50 per cent decided last week by cabinet.”
The cabinet agreed on August 13 to pay at least 50 per cent of the €12m subsidy earmarked for farmers, distributed depending on the number of animals maintained by each farming unit.
The goat and sheep farmers are calling for the full payment, not half, to be made immediately.
Chrysanthou further called for state support to deal with rising costs and falling revenues. He noted that in the last eight years, farmers have seen a 370 per cent increase in the price of animal feed alone, let alone a surge in fuel and electricity costs.
Sheep and goats milk is sold at “ridiculous prices” while their meat is bought at very low prices, said Chrysanthou.
The protest will begin tomorrow midday outside the presidential palace.
“Despite the assurances and promises received about measures to support our industry, nothing has been done. We will stay outside the presidential palace until the government satisfies are two demands,” he said.
The association head argued that if things continue as they are, by the end of the month, sheep and goats’ milk will likely disappear from the market with whatever consequences that will have on halloumi production, he warned.
The farmers will pursue dynamic measures because “we cannot continue like this, we can’t make ends meet,” said Chrysanthou.
Agriculture Minister Sophoclis Aletraris yesterday responded to the news describing the planned protest as “totally unnecessary”.
Aletraris accused the farmers’ associations of “ignoring the fact that we are currently in the midst of a major economic crisis”.
He noted that the state has the capacity at this point to pay around €7.5m to sheep, goat and cow farmers, which comes to around half of the subsidy earmarked for the industry.
The minister argued that the majority of the sheep and goat farmers associations accept this and were “very satisfied” with other measures being taken by the state to support them.
“Everyone knows that to support the industry, the government has promoted the adoption of a degree fixing the quantities of sheep and goat milk and cow milk for the production of halloumi,” said Aletraris, adding that the decree will be published in the official gazette in time for it to come into effect as of September 1.
The minister acknowledged however the “tremendous increase” of global animal feed prices as a result of reduced production in the US and Russia following drought.
“It is true, our livestock farmers are going through difficult times,” he said.
As a result, the ministry will raise the issue, along with other member states, at the next EU Council of Agriculture Ministers on September 24 and 25, to encourage the European Commission to examine the situation and see how to provide support to farmers.
“We consider therefore that the planned gathering outside the presidential palace to be totally unnecessary,” said Aletraris
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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