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LIVESTOCK farmers have issued authorities an ultimatum, threatening to blockade the Presidential Palace unless their demands for subsidies are met.

During a meeting on Monday at Khirokitia, the farmers decided to take "dynamic action" if their demands were not satisfied by August 20.

They are asking to receive 100 per cent of subsidies per head of livestock, plus financial assistance to cope with what they call "outrageous" prices of animal feed.

Achilleas Tringides, head of the Livestock Farmers Organisation, said Cypriot farmers are at a disadvantage as they do not produce grain as in other countries.

"Time is running out...we have no other choice but to come out on the streets," he said.

The farmers say they cannot compete in European markets due to the prevailing prices.

According to Evagoras Chrysanthou, chairman of the Paphos Animal Breeders Association, the military is being supplied with imported lamb while the price of Cypriot lamb remains at "outrageously low levels."

DISY MP Efthymios Diplaros charged also that private businessmen engage in profiteering at the expense of the farmers. This was being done with the collusion of the Cyprus Grain Commission (Ministry of Agriculture), he said.

Diplaros cited a recent incident when, 24 hours before the price of grain went up, "private individuals" allegedly emptied the grain silo in Limassol, filling up 15 trucks with 35 tonnes of grain within just a few hours.

According to his information, when the employee on duty at the silo told these persons that it was not permitted for the grain stock to be bought all at once, the private businessmen contacted the Cyprus Grain Commission. The latter, according to Diplaros, then ordered that the silo be opened up so that the grain could be loaded onto the trucks. The agriculture ministry has pledged to investigate the allegation. 

Meanwhile a meeting is scheduled for today at the offices of the Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) to review the arrangement whereby the cattle farmers must provide Pittas Dairies with 65 tonnes of cow milk per day.

In June the CPC ordered the Pancyprian Cattle Farmers' Organisation (POA) to supply Pittas with these quantities after finding that POA - which controls about 90 per cent of milk production on the island - had abused its dominant market position.

The cattle farmers claim that the quota imposed on them will lead to milk shortages because they will be forced to cut supplies to other dairy products companies - an allegation rejected by the competition watchdog, which has accused cattle farmers of trying to manufacture a crisis out of nothing.

So far there do not appear to be any milk shortages and, in either case, demand in the month of August tends to drop.

 

 

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