The Opposition Jamaica Labour Party has joined the Beef and Dairy Producers Association of Jamaica (BADPAJ) in accusing Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke of damaging the local beef industry by allowing the importation of duty-free beef.
Beef prices could collapse as a result, said the JLP's Spokesman on Agriculture, Senator Anthony Johnson. A previous collapse in the mid-1990s saw the national herd reduced from 350,000 to 80,000 head of cattle said Senator Johnson.
An action of recklessness
"It would be an action of recklessness to proceed," he said. He urged Mr. Clarke to make a statement to reassure farmers, since farmers had, at one time, begun selling off their cattle in fear of an impending collapse in price.
Mr. Clarke had recently been in dialogue with the BADPAJ over the issue before allowing the importation of certain cuts of beef, duty free, from Costa Rica. Mr. Clarke said that he had reached agreement with the association prior to his decision but that they reneged on this.