BEPPA seeking tax exemption
Since they don’t benefit from public garbage collection, the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers Association (BEPPA) will be asking for an exemption on the Garbage and Sewage Contribution which was introduced in the June 11 Mini-Budget.
Tomorrow, they will finally meet Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Indar Weir to discuss this and other concerns affecting the industry.
Head of the association Stephen Layne explained that other inputs such as an increase in electricity made the cost to raise chickens more expensive before the water tax was implemented and farmers were absorbing the expense to ease customers. However, he said the tax, which came into effect from July 1, was too much for farmers to endure as it meant that water bills increased by 50 per cent.
The tax would be divided between the Sanitation Service Authority and the Barbados Water Authority.
“There is no Sanitation Service Authority collection of farms so they are paying a tax they don’t get a benefit of,” Layne explained.
“A farmer has the responsibility of disposing of his waste in appropriate manner at his own expense, and if they don’t have their own transportation, they would spend hundreds of dollars a day for waste disposal.
“But Chickmont invested in a rendering plant where they take all of the offal, super-heat it and transform it into a powder meal. It is high in protein and calcium and used as feed for dog or cat food,” said Layne.
He added that water was an essential element of poultry rearing. Thousands of gallons are used to clean and sanitise pens and equipment, for processing purposes and to feed birds. He noted that Barbados had warm climatic conditions and the resource was necessary to cool down the body temperatures of the animals. He declined to say how much farmers spent on water each month.
Another concern they want addressed is the importation of chicken.
Layne said members of BEPPA supplied about 70 per cent of the eggs and chicken meat the island required, adding that imports undermined and saturated the local market.
Head of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul, sounded the alarm about the steep increase in water bills last week and also asked for concessions.
“Water is essential for dairy operations, we cannot get away from it. You are talking about 50 per cent increase for those farmers, that is up to $15 000. It is going to mean a tremendous hit on the tax flow for those farmers,” he said at the time.
Layne said he hoped today’s meeting, which is scheduled to be held at 10 a.m. at the Ministry’s Graeme Hall, Christ Church headquarters, would be a productive one.
This is the first time Weir would meet with members of the organisation since he came to office and the door open is to the more than 400 members to air their views. Correspondence was sent to the ministry in June.
Recently, members of the Beef and Dairy Producers also said the new tax could possibly lead to an increase in the cost of milk. (SB)