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Oct 29, 2008

Western livestock farmers say beef is holding its own

Story PictureThere has been a lot of depressing news in the recent flooding throughout Belize, but tonight there is some good news to report. And while the Belize River Valley farmers are suffering major losses in livestock that are perishing in flood waters, that is in the north of the country. A check today with Belize’s biggest meat and poultry producers yielded some positive news, and that is because red meat is holding its own and with some adjustments in its exportation, the beef will continue to be available to consumers.

Marion Ali, Reporting
While poultry farmers in Blue Creek were experiencing their own share of setbacks due to the recent flooding, in the west, their counterparts were in a little better shape. And the reasons for this are threefold: the flood water has begun to recede, making transportation once again manageable; their countrywide distribution system is set up differently; and they do not foresee a short supply of feed.

Norman Dyck, Gen. Mgr., Quality Poultry Products
“Like in chickens, it’s all in barns and it’s on high land. Cattle, we’re not dealing so much with cattle; it’s the other guys that are dealing with cattle. Losses and these things, we haven’t had no problems.”

Marion Ali
“Do you find that there are any illnesses in the chickens? Do you find that there are any contaminated water around or any of that?”

Norman Dyck
“Not so far because the water is going through treatment plants that we’re using so everything is has been just great.”

Marion Ali
“In other words, you’re saying the flood has not had any major bearing on your production, on the industry?”

Norman Dyck
“Not really, no. the biggest problem was last week when we had to cross with boats.”

General Manager of Quality Poultry, Norman Dyck told News Five today that the most he estimates his business has suffered is between ten and twenty percent at most because of the transportation problems caused by flooding. But another sector which might experience minor setbacks is the beef industry.

Marion Ali
“And while a lot off cattle have been lost due to the recent flooding, producers say it will not result in the unavailability of beef on the shelves.”

Escander Bedran, Owner, Running W Brand Meats
“Yes there’s been some cattle loss in the Cayo District but it won’t affect the local production because we have enough cattle on the market to supply. We will be short of some raw materials like ground steak at the moment because of the flood waters the cattle can’t get into the market, farmers are holding back on sales, cattle are not gaining weight at the moment and little things like this that will hold back. But this weekend we have enough cattle coming in for slaughter so by early next week or by the middle of next week we should have enough products to put back on the market.”

Owner and Manager of Running W Brand Meats, Escander Bedran, says livestock producers have also had to replace drowned cattle with cattle earmarked for the export market in order to meet the demands.

Escander Bedran
“With the little sale that we get with live cattle to Guatemala, most of these animals get exported there. it did put a little strain on the export side of it but not on the local consumption side of it.”

Marion Ali
“So you have to kind of compromise the exportation to suffice the local demand.”

Escander Bedran
“Yes, we could put it that way, yes.”

But while there is not and will not be a shortage of meat products, Bedran says sales have been affected because of the inconveniences the flood has created.

Escander Bedran
“The Roaring Creek Bridge, the Kendal Bridge, the Bullet Tree Bridge, the Spanish Lookout Bridge; we service all of these areas to all the supermarkets countrywide and it’s affected our sales to those markets not being able to get to the supermarkets. Even in Belize City, the low lying water, the truck can’t get to a store, we can’t deliver properly, the guys can’t walk out and walk into the store, they are under water, they are closed and people are afraid to buy refrigerated products at the moment due to blackouts. It’s a good percent loss. The product hasn’t been lost, it just hasn’t been sold so that income is not there and it puts a little threat. The product is still sitting in here, electrical bill has to be paid, salaries have to be paid, the product has already been processed. We want to sell it as fast as we can to put a fresh product on the market. It’s still fresh but it’s just going to be delayed.”

Also delayed will be the availability of suitable pastures for cattle to feed. But this, according to Bedran, will not pose any major problems since it will once again force livestock producers to export their cattle to Guatemala. Reporting for News Five, I’m Marion Ali.

So as far as meat producers are concerned in the west, the prices of their products should not increase in the foreseeable future.

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