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Animal Stock Replenished

A delegation of local livestock farmers, accompanied by Department of Agriculture (DoA) staff, is currently visiting farms and ranches in Florida with a view to upgrading local livestock herds.

The Cayman Islands team is being hosted by the Florida Department of Agriculture, which has been instrumental in accommodating this, and previous animal-procurement missions.

The four-day trip began on Monday, 6 October, with the Cayman delegation being led by two DoA officials, Senior Agricultural Officer Telford Miller, and Veterinary Officer Dr. Colin Wakelin. Cayman Islands Agricultural Society (CIAS) President James Sherieff, and several farmers are also part of the group.

This week's visit is the result of a request made by the CIAS to the Ministry of District Administration, Planning, Agriculture and Housing (DAPAH) to assist farmers with the importation of new breeding stock to expand and upgrade local cattle and goat herds. This farmers' initiative was readily supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and is in keeping with the Ministry's commitment to assist private farmers to increase and improve local agricultural production.

The DoA has been working closely with the farming community to coordinate the purchase. Present projections are that the shipment will contain some 90 to 100 head of new breeding stock, inclusive of both cattle and goats. With some 70 to 80 cattle expected, this will be the largest single importation of cattle into the Cayman Islands, even surpassing the 2005 post-Ivan livestock replacement initiative.

Under the agreement made between the Ministry and the CIAS, farmers will select and purchase their own animals and have them delivered to the quarantine facility designated by the DoA. Once there, Government will then assume the cost of quarantining, export testing and shipping of the animals to the Cayman Islands.

"This arrangement, will allow local livestock farmers to obtain top-quality breeding stock at costs similar to those paid by farmers and ranchers in Florida," explained Acting Director of Agriculture Mr. Brian Crichlow. "These private purchases, coupled with Government's support, will give our farmers a cost-effective and affordable means to rapidly expand the size and quality of their breeding herds. This is essential if we are to meet the growing demand for local meats."

In preparation for the planned shipment, some farmers have already made their own arrangements to purchase animals; while others are taking advantage of this week's trip to make their selections and purchases.

"The Florida Department of Agriculture has once again been very supportive and helpful, and we thank them for all their assistance," Mr. Crichlow noted. "The two department's have maintained a very close working relationship over many years, a relationship that we at the DoA value very highly."

Once purchased, the animals will then go into quarantine staring on October 20th, and all animals for import must be in the quarantine facility by October 22nd. Once in quarantine, the animals will undergo rigorous mandatory tests to ensure that they meet the necessary health standards which will allow them to be safely exported to Cayman.

Strict quarantine and testing is essential as it serves to prevent the introduction of new pests and diseases which could affect local livestock or even potentially threaten the public health of the Cayman Islands population. Only when this process has been completed will the animals that have met the DoA's stringent import health standards be shipped. The shipment is expected to arrive in early December.

For further information contact: Lennon Christian