Cattle will be the Latest Formal Export from Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 09 August 2012 00:00

David Dycks Cattle Farm“This is the best thing that has ever happened!” “I never thought it would actually come true.” and “This has the potential to increase the numbers of the entire livestock sector in Belize beyond recognition." are only a few of the comments expressed by leaders of the livestock industry about the cattle sweep and formal cattle trade to Mexico.

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Hon. Gaspar Vega, visited Blue Creek Village on Thursday, August 2nd, to witness the testing and tagging of cattle for export to Mexico. The Ministry of Agriculture has been working to provide local cattle farmers with a market for their cattle for many years. That focus has been placed squarely on Mexico for the last three years. Establishing such trade relationship means that Belizean producers would have to meet Mexican standards. That requires testing for various diseases. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) is the agency responsible to carry out those tests. On Thursday, August 2nd, BAHA was supervising the testing in Blue Creek that was being conducted by a Mexican veterinarian. A blood sample is taken from the tail vein of the cow and if the animal is clean, it is tagged and certified by BAHA as healthy for export.

BAHA’s certification decreases trade risk and increases the price of the product. Before this cattle sweep, farmers exported their cattle illegally to buyers in Guatemala and Mexico. That was at the risk of being intercepted and fined by law enforcement authorities and selling their product at a lower price than market value. There was no formal price in the illegal trade and it is uncertain just how much more money farmers will make now that there are formal trade agreements. However, David Dyck, who has been a farmer for 52 years, said that in the informal market he could get $1.50 per pound at the huff (live animal) and now with BAHA certification he could get something like $1.75. For other farmers, the increase will be greater. Some say as much as 30 to 40 percent greater.

Mexico’s Ambassador to Belize, His Excellency Mario Velasquez, said that there is a demand for Belizean cattle in Mexico. He said that the cattle trade is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of future trade relationships between the two countries. Velasquez said, “We will be importing more and more from Belize every day.” Jose Alpuche is the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture. He expects that cattle exports to Mexico will start in 2 to 3 months. Furthermore, Alpuche believes that Belize will soon be exporting cattle to countries beyond Mexico.   

Minister Vega held formal and informal conversations with farmers while in Blue Creek. He encouraged them to take advantage of the opportunities that exist with this new trading partner. He also reached out to them and request that they corporate more with the ministry because “we all have the same interest”.        

The cattle sweep began in Blue Creek but it will be extended countrywide to all cattle ranches across the country. Other than certification for export the sweep will also provide the ministry of agriculture data on the number of livestock available for export.