KETBİR President Bülent Tunç told reporters on Thursday in Sakarya that the union could be interested in acquiring the livestock facilities belonging to the EBK if the government opened a tender to privatize the EBK. Tunç said the increasing red meat imports have negatively affected local production, pushing producers to become more and more dependant on imports.
In a bid to halt extreme price hikes caused by the growing shortage of red meat in the domestic market, the government in 2010 decided to resume livestock and red meat imports through the EBK. Turkey halted imports of red meat and livestock between 2002 and 2010 due to the mad cow disease scare. “We aspire to become a red meat and livestock exporter country, not a buyer. … The time has come for the Turkish red meat sector and our stockbreeders to come out of their shell,” Tunç argued.
The union head said they worked on measures to support small and medium-sized stockbreeders and that the privatization of the EBK could be a solution. “We have to put our trust in local animal breeders and minimize imports; Turkey has this potential,” he noted.
Also speaking on Thursday, Turkish Union of Dairy, Meat, and Food Producers (SETBİR) President Murat Yörük said they supported efforts to subsidize Turkish livestock breeders.
Meanwhile, mentioning a nationwide government program to distribute free milk to 7 million schoolchildren, Yörük said the project is helpful to highlight the importance of proper nutrition for children. “This project could also help stabilize the local milk market and we support such efforts,” he added. Turkish milk producers earlier established the National Milk Registry Program, which enables the unions to define which customer received milk from which producer at what price.
Suspicions that milk handed out to schoolchildren could be contaminated and led many to be hospitalized in May sparked debate and controversy between ruling and opposition party officials. Some 4,000 students were hospitalized across many provinces after drinking milk provided via the milk project in May.