Regional

St Ann farmer loses over 20 cows to thieves

Monday, May 15, 2017

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A St Ann cattle farmer is lamenting the loss of more than 20 animals to thieves who, he said, have consistently preyed on his farm.The most recent heist, he recalled, occurred on Good Friday in the wee hours of the morning. He said two of his animals were taken then.

“Me a beef man and mek I tell you something: One morning mi wake up and go find four cow head and belly inna mi cow pen. Dem just cut dem, drop out the belly and gone with the body. Dem nuh have nuh time fi skin dem or nothing,” Derrick Walker told the Jamaica Observer North & East last Tuesday during a visit to the Epworth community in the parish.

“A more than one time mi find four down deh. Dem leave with a lot of live ones as well,” he added.

Walker said he was 100 per cent sure that the perpetrators are from the community, but said it was difficult to identify or catch anyone due to the size of the land which is well over 100 acres.

Reporting it, he believes, will amount to nothing.

“All mi can do is see if mi catch one, mi use mi cutlass, because yuh naah get no other justice. It hard fi you wake up and work suh hard fi lazy people thief your things. What can you do to prevent it unless you a go stay out deh with dem and make dem kill you?” the 73 year old said.

He told North & East that other cattle farmers in the area have also suffered at the hands of thieves but, like him, are not able to do anything about it. Authorities, he felt, have done nothing to address the issue.

“Anytime you hear dem mention nothing about praedial larceny is campaign talk. Nothing will come of it. A long time mi deh 'bout, enuh. When dem in position to help dem nuh help,” he said.

Last month Agriculture Minister Karl Samuda said the ministry will be strengthening the traceability of livestock through the National Animal Identification and Traceability System and other agricultural produce through the receipt book system.

He said, too, that the police will be asked to do regular stop and search of vehicles transporting agricultural produce and to ensure the legitimacy of receipts.

Praedial larceny is estimated to cost Jamaican farmers up to $6 billion annually. There are proposed amendments to the Agricultural Produce and the Praedial Larceny (Prevention) Acts to include an increase of fines from $250,000 to $3 million; expansion of the definition for praedial larceny; simplifying the procedures for registering and licensing all handlers of agricultural produce, among other things.

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