Poultry Wholesalers Halt Fresh Supplies17 February 2012
ISRAEL - Poultry wholesalers halted supplies of fresh chicken and turkey to the 250,000 residents of Petah Tikva, Elad and Alfei Menashe on Wednesday, protesting Petah Tikva's decision to raise their veterinary fees.
According to Haaretz.com, the fees are meant to cover the cost of city inspections. Petah Tikva raised its fees from 4 agorot per kilogram to 30 agorot, a 650 per cent increase.
The higher fees will raise poultry prices by about 3 per cent, and if other cities raise their fees in line, Israeli consumers will be paying around NIS 100 million more a year for their chicken, the wholesalers say. They accuse Petah Tikva city hall of unilaterally annulling a 22-year-old agreement between wholesalers, the Union of Local Authorities and the Egg and Poultry Board.
Avshalom Dolev, the head of the poultry wholesalers organization, noted that their poultry is supervised by the Agriculture Ministry's Veterinary Services. Other countries make do with such supervision and don't require an inspection by the municipality.
Industrial poultry slaughterhouses that belong to the Poultry Board have agreed to pay 4.2 agorot per kilo for these secondary inspections, and the relevant ministries have agreed. The agriculture and health ministries are working on legislation to turn this voluntary agreement into law.
But Petah Tikva has taken advantage of this transition period to exploit the wholesalers and raise fees, said Dolev.
A Petah Tikva spokesman said the city has always received part of the fees, which have been collected via the Union of Local Authorities. In Petah Tikva there is a municipal bylaw, not in force in the past, that allows the city to collect the fees. "Since it turns out that the expenses for handling the secondary inspections ... in Petah Tikva are higher than revenues, it was decided after a legal examination and with advance warning that as of January 1, 2012, the revenues for the inspections would be transferred directly to the municipality as set in the city bylaw: 30 agorot per kilogram of fresh chicken and turkey," the spokesman said.
The city said it had extended the deadline until mid-February after a number of companies, including Tnuva and Tene Of, said they would not pay the city directly. Since they're not paying the veterinary inspection fee, they're banned from selling poultry in Petah Tikva, the city said.
Israelis are among the world's heaviest poultry eaters, consuming 42 kilos per capita annually. Israeli farmers produce some 480,000 tons of chicken and 90,000 tons of turkey a year.