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Farmers Demand ‘Meet Us, Dr Minnis’

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Farmers criticise PM (strong language)

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE Farmers United Co-operative, the small group of farmers skirted by Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis earlier this week, have demanded a meeting,  “vitally important to our survival” still takes place.

The group was turned away from the Office of the Prime Minister on Monday. A video of the incident has since spread across Facebook.

In the short video, several members of the cooperative can be seen having a verbal exchange with a Royal Bahamas Defence Force officer outside the Office of the Prime Minister, while another accused Dr Minnis of exiting the building through a side door.

The group shouted as they walked across the parking lot in an attempt to attract the prime minister’s attention, however he got into his vehicle and sped away.

Press Secretary Anthony Newbold yesterday confirmed a meeting was originally scheduled with the group, but had to be “reset” due to “last-minute conflicts”.

Neither side could say if the meeting was eventually rescheduled.  

Caron Shepherd, president of the association of roughly 100 farmers, said while she was “shocked and confused” by Dr Minnis’ actions, there is still a need for him to “come to the table and hear what we have to say.”

Ms Shepherd said the group has not been able to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew and setbacks brought on by a contaminated feed mill.

She claimed the group has, for much of the last 18 months, advocated for critical discussions with both the current government and the previous Christie administration.

Despite these attempts however, Ms Shepherd said the group has only been fed “lip-service” as successive governments have only attempted to “pacify the drama” week to week.

“The frustration is evident,” she told The Tribune. “Farmers came all the way from the Family Island to be a part of this.

“There is a nine-month window for farmers to yield quality crops, June to September, we’ve tried to get this government’s attention prior to last June.

“If farmers are to survive, we knew these next few months would be critical. 

“We want to discuss everything from subsidies to feed; fences to elements of crime we face.

“Simply, we want the government to set up avenues to get our crops and livestock into the local markets and if possible, the international markets.

“We don’t want handouts. We want to facilitate operations that would keep our businesses going.”

“The farmers are hurting,” Ms Shepherd continued. “That’s what we wanted to get through to the prime minister. We met with the Minister (Renward Wells), but that didn’t help in any way. Just more empty promises.”

“This was the next step,” she added.

Last March, the co-operative presented then-Agriculture Minister V Alfred Gray with its proposal for a $60 million government subsidy to help their operations recover from “the heart-wrenching double whammy” of Hurricane Matthew and contaminated feed mill.

The group’s March 27, 2017 letter to Mr Gray requested government financial help amounting to $30,000 per acre of farm land.

Estimating that there were around 2,000 acres of land on New Providence being used for agriculture, the co-operative said this equated to a total $60 million subsidy.

The proposal was never approved.

Comments

John 3 months, 1 week ago

So did Hubert Minnis take a ‘Donald Trump ‘ on the farmers? One would think their plight would be an easy one to address considering the need for more food production and food security in the country. Also with ready and easily accessible markets considering all major food stores and some hotels have indicated a strong willingness to purchase local produce. And government has access to many thousands through its Social Services food assistance program. But to slip out of the back door?

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joeblow 3 months, 1 week ago

This nations commitment to becoming self sustaining through agriculture is not a priority for the government! That much is clear!

Right now they trying to get the Haitians straight. Make the request in creole, maybe then they will respond!

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 1 week ago

If a meeting was arranged with the farmers for that Day .and he had more pressing matters to attend to. Speak to them briefly, instead of speeding away in his chauffer driven car.

It makes no sense. what he did.

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sealice 3 months, 1 week ago

they get everything at no cost already what more can they need?

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hrysippus 3 months, 1 week ago

So this organization of agricultural landowners want every Bahamian man, woman, child, and baby yo pay a little more than $3 per week for a year in order to have the opportunity to buy foodstuffs grown in the country. A house hold of six persons would therefore have to find an extra $72 per month just for this opportunity. The vegetables grown locally will have to sold at a higher price than those imported due to cost of doing business, the cost of water and the cost of power and labour compared to that grown in enormous farms in Florida, California, and the corn belt states. One of the two hydroponic farms that I have visited in NP went bust some years ago, the other one struggles to produce fresh water from their reverse osmosis plant at a price which will keep their produce competitively priced. Way back the loyalists tried large scale farming but none survived. The remains of a large citrus farm can be seen when you fly into Marsh Harbour. I hope I am wrong but I just can not see large scale farming working. One of Florida's larger citrus growing families tried in Grand Bahama for years. They gave up when their fields were inundated with a salt water surge for the third time during the hurricane several years ago.

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 1 week ago

Long Island is waiting patiently to see what the Plan for agriculture for this island is really all about ........ The farmers are still waiting for the tractor to clear their land based on vouchers given out by the PLP following Hurricane Joaquin .......... The FNM can at least see to it that this promise is honoured after TWO+ years ............................ Go figger

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licks2 3 months, 1 week ago

Let me got this right. . .this group went to government to give them $30,000 for each acre of land they have. . .which amounts to $60 million among them all? Also, they are "rowing" the government because it would not "do things" so that they can get their products to local and international markets? Birdie what I missing here? So if government give them the land, the feed and fertilizers, cut the land down for them, buy their products from them. . .so they only get the money aye? Child I need a PLP to interpret this mess for me. . .I getting my brain in a nut just trying.

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TigerB 3 months, 1 week ago

heck , why do people go into business relying on handouts from a government. That is weird. I wouldn't trust the government with nothing, just too lil bit a money to go around, get ya own tings dem. I saw that news clipping with the minister and the demands that the farmer has, sounds almost like those taxi drivers. Wish them all God's speed. Free leased land.. all the Gov't has to do now is plan the seedlings, then the farmers straight

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 1 week ago

The Government MUST partner with the farmers ....... Create island-specific plans and incentives to market what EACH island can naturally produce in good quantities ........ so that the country's $1.5 Billion food bill can be reduced by at least 25% in the next 3 years.

BUT RENWARD WELLS SEEMS TO HAVE NO SENSIBLE PLAN TO PROVIDE TO FARMERS.

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