14ymedio, Havana, 6 May 2019 — The shortage of animal feed and the implementation of a tax on the income of pork producers led to a lower supply of pork and higher prices in the markets, according to a report published on Monday in Cubadebate.
It will still take time for the shortage of pigs to be solved and the “availability” of the product “will not see a breakthrough in a few months,” the official media explains. Meanwhile, a pound of boneless pork has reached 70 Cuban pesos (CUP) in several markets of the Island.
The official version admits that pork production started very badly this year because the state stores in the municipalities did not deliver the feed for the animals in time. The distribution of feed is a state monopoly and national production is scarce and based on substitutes.
The lack of the product is attributed to the failure to deliver “essential feed” contracted with international suppliers. “It did not arrive in time” at its destination or “never arrived,” points out the text, published after the rise in prices of pork was widely reported in independent media and social networks.
In the last few days, complaints from Cuban Internet users who posted photos showing the prices of pork on market stalls across the country became frequent on Facebook and Twitter. Along with criticism, some used irony to explain the absence of pork in the agricultural markets.
“Someone is talking nonsense here and blamng the price of pork on African Swine Fever,” commented Camilo Condis on his Twitter account in reference to an article on BBC World with the title: Why the price of pork skyrockets worldwide.
The publication insists that Brazil and Argentina decided not to send cargoes already contracted to Cuba, a decision that the head of the Porcine Technological Division of the Livestock Business Group, Yasser Hamed Jassén Santiesteban, attributed to “the effects of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of U.S.”
In December of 2018, Brazil froze a credit line that allowed Cuba to acquire a variety of products, especially food. The cancellation was due to the lack of payments from Havana, a fact that is not mentioned in the Cubadebate report.
On the island, local producers have not been able buy this type of feed — based mainly on corn and soybeans — from the State since last September, and only at the beginning of April 2019 did the State began distributing the product. A reality that affected the more than 14,000 pork producers belonging to the private and cooperative sector. The latter were forced to distribute their meat through the state company Acopio, an intermediary between the breeders and the markets.
Another blow that caused a steep decline in the availability of pork in the markets, and has contributed to its price skyrocketing, was the application at the beginning of this year of a tax on the person income of pig farmers, on a progressive scale that goes from 10% for those with earnings of up to 12,000 pesos, and reaches up to 45% if the producer earns more than 150,000 pesos.
This measure has upset those who consider that the levies are excessive and discourage the raising of animals, in the midst of the adverse economic landscape that the country is experiencing. Many of these producers also pay other taxes related to the activity they perform and the labor force they hire.
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