April 6, 2022
Dairy farmers have vehemently opposed a proposed Department of Education (DepEd) policy to source from multinational corporations – instead of from Filipino farmers– the milk for its School Based Feeding Program (SBFP).
The Dairy Confederation of the Philippines, in a letter to DepEd Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones, said Filipino milk farmers stand to lose P250 million from the policy.
Besides, RA 11037 “states unequivocally that as far as practicable,” milk for the SBFP shall be sourced from local farmers and processors.
“This is in violation of the purpose and spirit of RA 11037,” said DCP Director Danilo V. Fausto in the letter. RA 11037 institutionalizes the National Feeding Program for Undernourished Children in Public Day Care Center, Kindergarten, and Elementary Schools to Combat Hunger and Undernutrition.
The latest policy is for implementation from April to June 2022.
“We strongly deplore and object to this sudden and unilateral program implementation schedule for the 2022 GAA (General Appropriations Act) . The schedule will unfairly prevent the local farmers, cooperatives and local milk processing plants from supplying the milk requirements of the SBFP under the 2022 GAA,” Fausto said.
The local dairy farmers, processors and cooperatives started serving the SBFP during GAA 2019 in the last quarter of 2020 and continued on to GAA 2020 and then to GAA 2021 which is currently ongoing.
“They cannot possibly be expected to supply the GAA 2022 milk in the sudden and unilateral imposition of an April 2022 to June 2022 period within which to supply milk because the 2021 GAA is still ongoing. And the milk is still being produced and delivered,” Fausto said.
The milk feeding for 2021 is still ongoing because of the pandemic and will finish by June 2022. DepEd wants to implement 2022 starting April to June this year, overlapping the ongoing milk feeding using the budget for 2021.
This will in effect allow foreign multinationals to come in since “we will have to finish first the 2021 up to June, thus, local dairy farmers cannot supply the April to June request of DepEd.”
DepEd is now asking NDA (National Dairy Authority) and PCC (Philippine Carabao Center) to sign a certification that local dairy farmers cannot supply the milk to allow the entry of foreign multinational dairy companies, dislodging the local dairy farmers for the GAA budget 2022.
“The very spirit why RA11037 was created…to give livelihood and income opportunities for our local farmers. Local dairy farmers can supply the milk required under the program.”.
DepEd wants to implement the milk feeding program only for 16 days, while the recommendation of the National Food and Nutrition Council is 90-120 days to have real and meaningful impact on the health of school children.
Furthermore, majority of the local dairy farmers and cooperatives have reinvested their earnings to expand their capacities.
“And now they will be shut out and excluded under the program, consequently resulting in losing millions of pesos for these dairy cooperatives, turning their expansion to white elephants,” said Fausto.
“If they allow multinationals to enter, the rest of 2022 beginning July to December, the local dairy farmers & cooperatives will be shut out and excluded. The multinationals will advantage of the milk feeding program funded by tax payers’ money.”
DepEd does have a commitment on fund utilization with the Department of Budget and Management, DCP admitted. But this unilateral decision to implement starting April 2022 effectively excludes local dairy farmers and milk processing plants.
The policy will double multinationals’ share to the milk feeding program in 2022 to 41.89% equivalent to 442.692 million from 19.07% in 2021. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)