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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Cheese makers call on the state to help sheep farmers ]

Cheese makers call on the state to help sheep farmers

Author: 
Jacqueline Agathocleous

CHEESE makers yesterday jumped to sheep and goat farmers’ defence, calling on the government to offer them the necessary funding so as not to lead the entire dairy industry into demise.

The Dairy Products Manufacturers Association’s announcement signalled the start of a chain reaction of dire effects on Cyprus’ dairy industry, following farmers’ recent desperate protests against a cabinet decision to halve funding from the state. 

The association said the problems faced by the farming world had already started affecting cheese production. “The fact that sheep and goat milk producers are being forced to take to the streets shows beyond any doubt how difficult things are for the farming industry today, following the massive global increases in grain and soya prices,” it said.

It called on the government to “exhaust all margins” – despite the depressing state of public finances, which have warranted assistance from the EU – to substantially support the sector, which it deemed the “most important step in maintaining the Cypriot agricultural economy”.

The cheese makers added, “we are calling on (the state) to satisfy the sheep and goat farmers’ demands, giving them 100 per cent of funding per head of livestock and dealing with the problem that has emerged with honesty, without trying to shift the problems elsewhere”.

With animal feed prices spiralling out of control and the milk producers crying for help, the association said there had been a dramatic decrease in all types of milk in the market, resulting in cheese manufacturers underperforming.

“Unfortunately, reductions in production exceed 40 per cent, with the visible danger of shrinking one of the most significant export sectors, resulting in loss of jobs, reduction of exports and reduction of foreign exchange inflow,” said the association. 

It added that the problem would be exacerbated further in coming months, leading up to February – a period that is traditionally low in sheep and goat milk production.

Furthermore, the manufacturers deemed the government’s recent decision to impose “unfeasible percentages” of goat and sheep milk for the production of halloumi as “completely wrong and untimely”. It said the decision was expected to end years of efforts to maintain a healthy and viable cheese production sector.

Earlier this month, the cabinet decided to pay sheep, goat and cow farmers a subsidy of €7.5 million – distributed according to livestock numbers – instead of the earmarked €12 million.

The decision was met with an intense reaction by farmers, whose protest outside the presidential palace last Thursday turned violent following intervention by police.

The farmers are asking for the full €12 million, plus financial assistance to cope with what they call the “outrageous” price of animal feed, which they said cost 3.7 times more compared to eight years ago.

Agriculture Minister Sophocles Aletraris has promised to table the cost of animal feed for discussion with the EU council of agriculture ministers at the end of September.



(Source: Cyprus Mail)
Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2008 Please contact Cyprus Mail for the copyright terms of this article.



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