Robert Lucas Takes On The B-B-BockBados Chicken Cartel!
Dear Sir/Madam, The Editor
Listening to the Prime Minister’s address yesterday, pertaining to the cost of chicken, I was under the impression that, when he referred to the Barbados Agricultural Development Marketing Corporation’s (BADMC) importation of chicken, it meant whole chicken. I was disabused of this impression on reading (The Barbados Advocate) newspaper of the 27th, May 2008 (where) it was revealed that, chicken wings were the item alluded to.
The importation of chicken wings is not a new feature. This was allowed in the past, but was suspended as a result of lobbying on the part of the Barbados Egg and Poultry Producers (BEPP) under the aegis of the last minister of agriculture.
I can only speak for myself. I have a problem with a minority of the population holding the country up for ransom.
The position is always that, the industry provides jobs and what will happen if importation of whole-chicken is allowed. One has the ridiculous situation where a chicken costs more than twenty-dollars. What is going to happen, when the price of oil reaches US $ 200.00 per barrel? At some point, protectionism of this industry must stop. This has to happen if the cost of living in this country is to come down.
Removing the price control on whole chicken is only going to result in an increase in the costs to the consumer. The Prime Minister has stated that the importation of wings is primarily aimed at buttressing the lower level of society against the rapid rise in the cost of living. Since we are all Barbadians, should not all of us be buttressed?
The Prime Minister should also be insisting that the addition of water to poultry be banned, if he wants there to be an immediate reduction in the cost of living. This causes me to pose the question of who does Mr. James Paul represents? Does he represent his constituents or the Barbados agricultural Society (BAS)? At some point, the concerns of his constituents and those of the BAS must diverge. Who is he going to side with?
In the past, I have on numerous occasions, in your newspaper, stated my position vis-à-vis the local poultry industry. I am opposed to the industry as it is currently structured. I have stated that, the industry is an artificial one and that, the only local inputs are labour, water and some cement, the latter being used to make the foundation of the pens . I have also stated that, the local feed plant is actually a cartel, since the major owners of it are also involved in poultry rearing (either solely or by means of a form of share-cropping), slaughtering and distribution. The local feed plant can sell its product at whatever price it wants. One of my main points of contention against the local poultry industry and by extension the feed plant is the fact that, no effort has been made locally to develop rations for the industry.
Robert D. Lucas, PH.D.