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Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat waves to members of the media as he makes his way to yesterday’s Senate sitting.

This country sits on the edge of the Foot and Mouth Disease as Venezuela and Colombia have been identified as sources of this.

But more immediately, proposed law by Government will make it a “serious offence” for people to dump animals parts, whether chicken feathers, crab or oyster remnants, in a public place.

Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat spoke about both issues in the Senate yesterday, while piloting amendments to the Animal Diseases and Importation law.

The amendments change this 65-year-old law and add to its sections provisions dealing with the handling of animal products, import/export of products and animal welfare.

It also creates offences for mistreatment and cruelty.

The bill also empowers an Inspector with powers and regulations to assist their functions.

Rambharat said Monday was the 50th day of T&T’s mandate for non-essential workers to stay-at-home. He said the bill was relevant to infectious diseases in animals since tracing of infectious diseases was very relevant regarding the COVID situation. Rambharat recalled former US President Barack Obama once talking of an “unseen unknown” thing which would affect the globe “almost like Nostradamus,” Rambharat added.

He said work was done regarding the current law by the previous Government on animal and animal products and further work was done by his Ministry.

After alluding to the threat of the Foot and Mouth Disease, Rambharat said corned beef from Brazil also had to be banned due to tainted meat issues.

“It’s one of my favourite foods but it had to be banned. We don’t import meat from Brazil and now corned beef either,” he said.

He said the Ministry recently had to respond to a situation with ginger stolen from a Paramin farmer. It was treated with weedicide, he noted. Also last week Rambharat said he had to deal with a matter of sweet potatoes which is now in police’s hands. He said that wasn’t a public health matter.

On provisions in the law ahead, Rambharat said he’d seen situations where pluck shop owners dumped bags of chicken feathers on roadsides and crab and oysters dumping remnants on the road, “It’s a very serious offence.”

Rambharat said Government is working on law to regulate the veterinary sector further. He noted the use of people assisting in the livestock field. He said there are some “stockmen” who offer excellent services. But he said there must be law for those who style themselves as vets but aren’t qualified.

UNC senator Wade Mark, expressing concern about the bill creating monopolies, asked how the bill would affect Prime Minister Keith Rowley whom he claimed has a goat and sheep farm.

“Our Prime Minister rears goat and sheep in Tobago, 3,000 to 4,000. How will this bill impact on him and his farm? We must ensure no one can use the law to create monopolies as there are already growing monopolies in this industry – we must protect small and medium-sized farmers against those who dominate the industry.”

Mark who called for private sector involvement on a team proposed in the bill, said, “This bill isn’t in the interest of small people,” adding that “it’s designed for big goat and sheep players – we know who the players are. We can’t put the issue of food in a few peoples’ hands.”

He asked who Government consulted on the bill since the Sheep and Goat Farmers Association only saw the bill when Mark showed it to them.

Mark who said there are people who have a monopoly on the livestock sector, queried why Marilissa Farms was “given” 1,116 acres of land and if there was a link with businessman Lincoln Tackoorie. He called for Government to table the lease regarding that farm.

— Gail Alexander