Farmers increasing stock

| 10/10/2008

(CNS): Local farmers along with staff from the Department of Agriculture (DoA) have gone shopping in Florida for new livestock for the Cayman Islands. With some 90 to 100  head of new breeding stock, including both cattle and goats being purchased this will be the largest single importation of cattle into the Cayman Islands, even surpassing the 2005 post-Ivan livestock replacement initiative and is a response a growing demand for locally reared meat said the DoA.

The delegation led by Senior Agricultural Officer Telford Miller, and Veterinary Officer Dr. Colin Wakelin  is visiting farms and ranches in Florida to find suitable animals and is being hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture, which has been instrumental in accommodating this, and previous animal-procurement missions.

This visit is the result of a request made by the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society to the Ministry to assist farmers to import new breeding stock to expand and upgrade local cattle and goat herds. Under the agreement made between the Ministry and the CIAS, farmers will select and purchase their own animals and have them delivered to the quarantine facility designated by the DoA. Once there, Government will then assume the cost of quarantining, exporttesting and shipping of the animals to the Cayman Islands.

 “This arrangement, will allow local livestock farmers to obtain top-quality breeding stock at costs similar to those paid by farmers and ranchers in Florida,” explained Acting Director of Agriculture Brian Crichlow. “These private purchases, coupled with Government’s support, will give our farmers a cost-effective and affordable means to rapidly expand the size and quality of their breeding herds. This is essential if we are to meet the growing demand for local meats.”

In preparation for the planned shipment, some farmers have already made their own arrangements to purchase animals; while others are taking advantage of this week’s trip to make their selections and purchases. Once purchased, the animals will then go into quarantine staring on 20 October and all animals for import must be in the quarantine facility by 22 October. Once in quarantine, the animals will undergo rigorous mandatory tests to ensure that they meet the necessary health standards which will allow them to be safely exported to Cayman.

Strict quarantine and testing is essential as it serves to prevent the introduction of new pests and diseases which could affect local livestock or even potentially threaten the public health of the Cayman Islands population.  Only when this process has been completed will the animals that have met the DoA’s stringent import health standards be shipped.  The shipment is expected to arrive in early December.

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