Belarmino Esquivel, the Principal Agriculture Officer and Director of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise confirmed to Love News today that there is no shortage of beef as claimed by Running W Brand Meats. The company posted on its social media page on Monday that (quote) The Management of Running W Brand Meats informs the general public that unfortunately, we will not be attending this Year’s National Agriculture and Trade Show. This is due to the current short supply locally of Beef and Pork, and the rise in Covid Cases.” (end of quote) But according to Esquivel, there are enough heads of cattle to meet local demands. He says that the issue is more of a price war. Here is how he explained it.
Belarmino Esquivel, Principal Agri. Officer & Dir. of Livestock, M.O.A.: “Belize as it is right now has a national herd of approximately 170,000 beef animals countrywide. The potential that we have in terms of exports and in terms for local consumption, there’s a little over 30,000 animals that are readily available on an annual basis that can be supplied both locally and to meet the local demand and to meet export demands so to date, we’ve exported a little over 12,000 animals. We are not half way as yet so that means that we still have another 15 or 20,000 animals that can potentially be exported, that is available in country. So I don’t believe there is a shortage. It is more of a price war that is going on. Please note that recently, Mexico has already waived the tariff, 15%, and there’s more interests of other companies coming into Belize to look for the beef that we have. Guatemalans are, after hearing the waiver of that tariff imposed to the cattle that goes to Mexico, that is exported to Mexico, the Guatemalans have upped the price from 2.10 to 2.35, instances up to 2.35 and what the local meat processing facilities are paying is 2.15, 2.10. So that is the situation. It’s not actually a shortage but we do have. We are self-sufficient in beef. So that is the situation we’re in and obviously the cattle producers will go to those that are paying higher prices. That means more pocket, more money into their pocket. It’s basically in simple terms, that’s just the true reality of what is going on as we speak. No?”
Esquivel says that consumers should not be worried. He says that the ministry is monitoring the situation.
Belarmino Esquivel, Principal Agri. Officer & Dir. of Livestock, M.O.A.: “Please remember that Government facilitates as much as possible and creates an enabling environment to ensure that there is food, that we can produce food. But, we cannot take care of every single aspect. But, we do monitor what’s going on. Consumers do have quite a lot of other protein sources. You know? You have the most accessible one which is the chicken, the poultry. So, it is business that is going on and some farmers, from the farmers perspective, they are very happy. They are making quite a bit of money now but it’s something that we’re monitoring very closely. No? It’s something, it is happening and as a ministry, as a concerned ministry, we are monitoring very closely because we do have a responsibility to ensure that there is food security. That there is food on the table fo our consumers.”