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Stiff penalties for farmers who fail to issue receipts

Published:Thursday | April 5, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Commander Christopher Murdock (left) of the Island Special Constabulary Force looks as Deputy Superintendent of Police Mevral Smith leafs through a receipt book, one of the linchpins of the national drive to curb praedial larceny. - PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER SERJU

Christopher Serju, Gleaner Writer

BUSHY PARK, St Catherine:

FARMERS WHO fail to issue a receipt for agricultural produce could end up in prison and face stiff fines. The same is true for persons who buy from farmers and fail to obtain a receipt for their goods.

"Help us to help you," Commander Christopher Murdock of the Island Special Constabulary Force urged farmers during an emergency meeting of the Bushy Park Community Development Committee on Tuesday.

"We can't do it alone," he insisted, charging them to become registered farmers and acquire and use the produce receipt book as the law dictates, or face the consequences.

The fine for failing to issue a receipt upon conviction is a maximum of $25,000 and or 12 months in prison; the same is true for the consumer held with agricultural produce for which he or she cannot show a receipt.

Insider information

Murdock reminded farmers that the evidence had shown conclusively that it was near impossible for thieves to target agricultural produce without insider information, hence the need to provide law enforcers with the necessary information to prevent and reduce praedial larceny.

"I can't know where your farm is located. I can't stay in Kingston and know when your crop is ready to come. I don't know where your bull is tied or where you tie your goat to come and steal it, so the information must be coming from within," he insisted. "Ladies and gentlemen, you all need to come together and form a chain, hand-in-hand and each man, each women, saying we are all going to pull together."

Meanwhile, Deputy Superintendent of Police Mevral Smith who is in charge of the Old Harbour subdivision gave his commitment to providing greater support for the farmers' efforts.

"I am in charge, and I am here just to reassure you, to let you know that we are fully aware of your challenges regarding praedial larceny, and the range of issues that go with praedial larceny," he said. The senior cop also appealed to the farmers to contact him personally if they were not satisfied with the way their complaints were handled at the local level.