Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Faced with losses, egg farmers hoping for better 2019

Published:Monday | January 14, 2019 | 12:11 AMCarl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writer

The Jamaica Egg Farmers Association is reporting a $4.2-million operating loss for 2018, after another year of General Consumption Tax (GCT) and a mid-year glut which pushed prices below production costs.

In his report at the association's annual general meeting on Wednesday at the Hibiscus Lodge hotel in Ocho Rios, president Roy Baker said the year under review presented many challengers for the egg industry and farmers had to dig deep to survive.

"The unforgettable glut of 2018 caused major price discrepancies in the marketplace, which resulted in prices falling to its lowest in over 10 years," Baker noted.

He said the glut was caused by an oversupply of birds in the market, and this caused members to cut production by between 30 and 50 per cent.

"In addition to the challenges being faced, the sharp devaluation of the Jamaican dollar resulted in price increases in layer pullets, feeds and other imports, driving the costs of production to an unprecedented high, pushing average farm gate prices to $275 per dozen.

"With these new costs, farmers were unable to increase selling prices accordingly. Coupled with the addition of 16.5 per cent GCT on table eggs, the challenges became even more untenable.

"The GCT on table eggs continues to be a deterrent in the promotion of eggs as a healthy, affordable addition to the local diet; and this additional tax in no way benefits the farmers," Baker said.

 

HOPING FOR BETTER

 

Meanwhile, secretary of the association, Cheryl McLeod, is hoping for a better commercial climate this year.

"We are hoping for a good 2019 as we continue to encourage the promotion of eggs, and we continue to lobby for the removal of GCT on eggs," McLeod told The Gleaner.

She said the association met late last year with the agriculture and fisheries minister to discuss the removal of the GCT and is expecting a favourable response.

The 100-strong membership usually produces under a million dozen eggs per year, which is around 60 to 70 per cent of local demand.