June 12, 2020
The Department of Agriculture (DA) was flooded Thursday by more petitions to stop chicken and pork importation, pleading this is the help farmers need most amid the “debilitating” COVID 19 crisis that threatens to render millions of Filipino jobless.
In a joint statement, eight agriculture and related organizations appealed for DA and the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to stop issuing import permits for chicken meat, pork, and processed products until the end of the year to allow poultry producers to survive.
Imports are causing a “ despicable” damage to “millions of Filipinos.
“Allowing the importation of meat and limiting local production in this critical juncture will cause a stoppage in the operations of some farms. Their production cannot be revived for another 12-18 months. One can just imagine the despicable damage this could bring to millions of Filipinos reliant on the sector. We trust that this is not what the government wants,” according to the eight organizations.
Signatory in the joint statement are Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (Stephanie Nicole S. Garcia); Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines (Arch Edwin G. Chen); Philippine Maize Federation Inc. (Engr. Roger Navarro); Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (Danilo V. Fausto); United Broilers and Raisers Association (Lawyer Elias Jose Inciong); National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (Chester Warren Y. Tan); Philippine Eggboard Association Inc. (Irwin M. Ambal); and Philippine Veterinary Medical Association (Corazon P. Occidental).
“Helping our local meat producers and raisers, including feed millers and even feed crop planters, dealers, merchants, transporters, workers, and helpers, is the necessary steps in mitigating the debilitating impact of COVID-19 on the agricultural economy,” they said.
The groups’ appeal comes after DA Secretary William D. Dar’s pronouncement Thursday that neither DA, nor its attached Bureau of Animal Industry” did not ask the poultry sector to “stop production.”
Rather, Dar said in a press briefing Thursday that government is only allowing importation of deboned poultry products that cannot be produced by local farmers. Such processed products are imported as manufacturing input of meat processors, DA said.
However, the poultry raisers said “there is an abundant supply of live and frozen meat” to cater to the national demand.
“To give way to meat importation means aggravating the already devastating impact that the stringent lockdown measures have brought upon to the local ecosystem.”
Even the hog raisers asked for a similar cessation in importation of other livestock products.
“We humbly request that this importation stoppage be undertaken for the rest of 2020 to facilitate healing of our industry. We will do our best to support our employees who have been working doubly hard to guarantee the constant supply of food to the Filipino people amidst this pandemic. The stoppage must not only cover poultry products but also other products of the rest of the livestock industry,” the agriculture producers said.
“Government would be able to promote nation rebuilding by allowing local meat production to continuously flourish. As the local industry regains growth, millions of workers and raisers would be provided with jobs and income security. This industry has been historically resilient. (But) it needs an enabling environment to stay strong and capable, and continue providing for the people.”
Gregorio San Diego and Lawyer Elias Jose Inciong of UBRA said in an open letter to Dar that they were surprised that a BAI official has asked them to limit production “to give space” to imports.
The groups committed to DA to produce what is needed by Filipino consumers— that at a “fair” price to help other businesses flourish.
“With the regeneration of our local food supply and capacity, our joint industry associations commit to government that we will be able to supply and secure the food cycle of the whole country, as what we have done even during the ECQ period.”
“We are also committing fair market prices products to help our fellow business owners and consumers recover with us and fight this global pandemic. A true Bayanihan is uplifting too the Filipino industries to thrive and flourish in this critical time. Let us all heal and recover together by caring for the Philippine agricultural economy.” Melody Mendoza Aguiba