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DoA Livestock Shipment

During the early morning hours of Sunday, February 1, 2009, staff members of the Department of Agriculture (DoA) received its shipment of livestock for local farmers.

The culmination of a livestock replenishment initiative, this shipment, the largest single livestock shipment undertaken in the Cayman Islands, saw the arrival of 97 cattle and 21 goats from the United States.

"We are extremely pleased at the arrival of the new livestock and the condition of the animals," said Director of Agriculture, Mr. Adrian Estwick.

"This has been a challenging undertaking but we are very satisfied that the Department has been able to facilitate this shipment and assist local farmers to both replenish and expand herd numbers and more importantly, upgrade and enhance the quality of livestock in the Cayman Islands."

Under this programme, which started last year, local farmers were able to select and purchase new breeding stock of both cattle and goats in the US. Some farmers chose to make their purchase arrangements independently, while others traveled to Florida as part of a buying trip organized by the DoA in October 2008. Once the purchases were completed, the DoA then assumed responsibility for all of the costs of quarantining the animals, including housing, feeding and veterinary testing, as well as all shipping and insurance costs.

"The way the program was designed allowed farmers to select and purchase exactly what animals they wanted and still benefit from a cost-effective and affordable mechanism for upgrading their herds," explained Mr. Estwick. "Essentially our farmers were able to buy top-quality breeding stock at the same price paid by ranchers in Florida."

On arrival all of the animals, in their six specially outfitted forty foot containers, were taken directly to the Department of Agriculture's Lower Valley facility where they were held to undergo various inspections and health checks. Once completed, releases of the animals to their new owners began on Wednesday 4th February and are expected to be completed for Grand Cayman farmers as quickly as practicable. Cattle destined for farmers in Cayman Brac were delayed in their departure due to weather conditions and left on Tuesday, February 10th instead.

Prior to receipt of their animals the farmers signed a contract which specified that the animals are to be used for breeding purposes and are not to be slaughtered during a specified period, that being five (5) years for cattle and three (3) years for goats, except for medical reasons and with the express written authorization of the DoA. Failure to adhere to the contract will make the farmer liable to repay Government for the cost incurred in importing the livestock.

"This contractual obligation was first proposed by the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society (CIAS) and endorsed by both the Ministry and the Department, when the program was first initiated," Mr. Estwick explained." The purpose of the contract is to protect government's investment, which has been substantial, and to ensure that the animals are used for the purpose intended, that is to expand and upgrade local livestock operations and ultimately local meat production."