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SUVA, Fiji (Radio Fiji, Dec. 31) – Fiji’s Ministry of Agriculture has banned chicken imports from the United States, citing concern about the threat of disease.

The ban, which came after reports that the threat of Newcastle's Disease from imported poultry is high, infuriated chicken importer Fred Caine.

Cane denies claims by the government that his poultry poses a threat in Fiji, saying he was being made a scapegoat.

Caine said his company, Lincoln Farm, had earnings of nearly US$4 million a year. It has now been forced to close down.

Caine says instead of supporting an industry, which was providing employment for people, and providing competition for other poultry producers, the government did just the opposite.

He also says they weren't consulted when a public review on the issue had taken place.

"Two local producers met, they paid a consultant to put a report together and I believe it was a public report and we weren't invited to give our views on it. Now that has been done and it has officially killed my business," said Caine.

"I used to turn over three-point-nine million dollars in import poultry. We have in Suva a refrigeration storage worth half a million dollars lying idle doing nothing, we have gone we are dead now, All I am asking the government why weren't we paid a compensation or the most important thing why we weren't given one year to close down."

"If they were adamant in closing us down, at least be honorable and allow us twelve months and they didn't do either."

Meanwhile the Agriculture Ministry says the World Trade Organization is fully informed of the issue and they have notified the United States Ministry of Agriculture.

The study on Newcastle's disease in Fiji was coordinated and funded by the Fiji Government, the Fiji Poultry Association, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

December 31, 2002

Radio Fiji,

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