Farmers stock arrives in good shape

| 20/02/2009

(CNS): The Department of Agriculture has announced that 97 cattle and 21 goats arrived from the United States at the beginning of February as part of the livestock replenishment initiative. This is the largest single livestock shipment undertaken in the Cayman Islands, and Director of Agriculture Adrian Estwick said he was very pleased with the condition of the animals.

“This has been a challenging undertaking but we are very satisfied that the Department has been able to facilitate this shipment and assist local farmers to both replenish and expand herd numbers and more importantly, upgrade and enhance the quality of livestock in the Cayman Islands,” Estwick added.

Under the programme, which started last year, local farmers were able to select and purchase new breeding stock of both cattle and goats in the US independently or as part of a buying trip organized by the DoA in October last year. Once the purchases were completed, the DoA then assumed responsibility for all of the costs of quarantining the animals, including housing, feeding and veterinary testing, as well as all shipping and insurance costs.

“The way the programme was designed allowed farmers to select and purchase exactly what animals they wanted and still benefit from a cost-effective and affordable mechanism for upgrading their herds,” explained Estwick. “Essentially our farmers were able to buy top-quality breeding stock at the same price paid by ranchers in Florida.” 

On arrival all of the animals, in their six specially outfitted forty foot containers, were taken directly to the Department ofAgriculture’s Lower Valley facility where they were held to undergo various inspections and health checks.  Once completed, release of the animals to their new owners began on Wednesday 4 February. Animals for Cayman Brac were delayed due to weather conditions butthey left on Tuesday, 10 February.

Prior to receipt of their animals the farmers signed a contract which specified that the animals are to be used for breeding purposes and are not to be slaughtered fiveyears for cattle and three for goats, except for medical reasons and with the express written authorization of the DoA. Failure to adhere to the contract will make the farmer liable to repay the government for the cost incurred in importing the livestock.

“This contractual obligation was first proposed by the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society (CIAS) and endorsed by both the Ministry and the Department, when the programme was first initiated,” Estwick said. “The purpose of the contract is to protect government’s investment, which has been substantial, and to ensure that the animals are used for the purpose intended, that is to expand and upgrade local livestock operations and ultimately local meat production.”   


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