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Farm to Table Prices- a rule of thumb

Farm to Market – A rule of thumb for consumers

It is never easy for livestock farmers to express their frustrations when they cannot get back a fair return on their produce. The supply & demand factor is too strong for any farmers to determine farm prices. Neither the livestock farmers are capable, cooperative and brave enough to emulate the recent actions of fish importers to boycott importation of this product when the LKIM “coerced” them to use the 200- liter containers. They won the day when even the Honorable Minister of Agriculture & Agro- Based Industry backed out from the enforcement.

These importers can hold the Government & consumers at “ransom” because they are not producers. They have been plying their trades for years and knowingly boycotted imports to push the prices up on fish products. They do not need to feed the fish nor pay fishermen wages if they choose not to buy at all.

The lot of livestock farmers is on the opposite. They have to raise their stocks, dutifully taking care of them to ensure their animals are healthy, and finally facing the vagaries of prices being offered to them by the wholesalers and retailers. The livestock farmers cannot afford the luxury to choose who to sell, almost impossible to have a “direct sales” to consumers and definitely have no control over the prices on the retailed end products.

However, the livestock farmers nevertheless are willing entrepreneurs in this trade though players have changed over the years. Over the past two years, at least 4 large operations have ceased operations and many became contract growers for larger enterprises. As the livestock farmers know supply & demand mechanism determines farm prices, they are hopeful during the times of oversupply consumers would consume more of their products so as to clear the stocks. This can only happen if wholesalers and retailers also lower their prices.

The livestock farmers have over the years envisaged the need for consumers to demand a fair price to pay in tandem with the farm prices. The Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Association of Malaysia has even reported farm prices for the commodities and also advises the Ministry of Domestic Trade & Consumers’ Affair to monitor a fair price for the Malaysian consumers.

There is an index for the three main products like chicken, eggs and pork to be priced accordingly. The website maintained by the Association is easily accessible but we believe not many people are aware of this site and too complacent to check. We hope the younger more internet savvy population would advise their parents on smart consumerism. The recent events on socio- political issues saw the rise on individual or society’s right being expressed in full force. In the same manner, we can also demand our rights on certain prices to pay as we already know the farm prices. The farm, wholesale and retail prices for eggs and chicken are clearly spelled out in the web page:

As for the price of pork the rule of thumb is roughly 2.3 times for the best cuts.