Farmers seek scrapping of livestock levy

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PLAYERS in the livestock industry are lobbying government to urgently scrap the recently introduced levy on the production of day-old chicks, raw milk and beef cattle, businessdigest can reveal.

By Tinashe Kairiza

Under the new levy, cattle abattoirs are stipulated to pay US$10 of the value of a fifth quarter per animal slaughtered.

Milk buyers will be charged US$0,1 per litre, the same charge levied for every day-old chick produced.

The Livestock Development Levy, which came into force this week under Statutory Instrument 129 of 2017, will be used to finance a range of initiatives such as the surveillance, prevention and control of animal diseases in line with the Animal Health Act.

But livestock industry players, who are already battling to contain high production costs, say the new tax regime threatens the viability of the business.

The Livestock and Meat Advisory Council (LMAC), through correspondence circulated to industry stakeholders, says the recently introduced levy was punitive.

“Stakeholders in the livestock value chains are surprised by the announcement of the new Statutory Instrument levying the livestock sector at a time when the Office of the Presidency and Cabinet is in the process of negotiation to reduce the regulatory costs of doing business by at least 50%.

“The Livestock and Meat Advisory Council has already approached the Ministry of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development through the Deputy Minister responsible for livestock to consider a freeze in the implementation of the SI to allow for intensive stakeholder consultations towards a livestock development fund whose terms are agreeable to beef, dairy and poultry farmers, industry and government,” according to part of the correspondence from LMAC which businessdigest has read.

LMAC is also coordinating a caucus meeting of all farmers’ unions and livestock industry associations this week to chart the way forward and produce a joint statement for communicating industry reservations and suggestions to policymakers.

Apart from the new livestock fund, players in the agricultural sector are also lobbying government to consider suspending withholding tax and the afforestation levy.

Farmers contend that regulatory costs targeting agriculture are too steep.

The latest levy on livestock could have the effect of triggering an increase on the price of beef.

The levy will be committed towards promoting the research on appropriate technologies in livestock production and animal health; transparent grading and classification of livestock.

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