THE HOG farming industry is finding itself at odds with meat processors over bans imposed by local government units (LGUs) on the movement of pork products, with animal raisers keen to keep the African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak confined to Luzon and the processed meat industry eager to avoid lost sales during the peak period over the yearend holidays.

The latest point of contention is an order by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) directing LGUs “not to allow unwanted disruption of trade and commerce across the country and to allow the distribution and sale of processed meat products that contain pork as an ingredient in all provinces, subject to certain conditions.”

The Philippine Association of Meat Processors, Inc. (PAMPI) said it backed the DILG order, saying it will keep prices of processed meat from rising due to restrictions on supply as their goods lose freedom of movement.

“We note, that while the lifting of the restriction will help reduce our business losses, the much greater benefit will be for our people who are assured of continued supply of affordable and protein-filled nutritious products,” it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the farming lobby, represented by the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG), which includes hog raisers, said its priority was to prevent the spread of ASF, and supported the LGU bans pending the availability of a reliable method to test for ASF in processed meat.

“The hog industry supports LGUs that will invoke the general welfare clause of pertinent laws in banning processed pork,” SINAG Executive Director Jayson H. Cainglet said in a statement.

Every item shipped into the various jurisdictions should be “cleared as ASF-free. LGUs should demand: 1) No ASF test, no entry; 2) No proof of being ASF-free, no entry,” he said.

The DILG order called for unrestricted movement of goods which are not mainly pork-based, while all pork-based products should be allowed for distribution provided that canned meat products are cooked for at least 60 minutes at 116 degrees Celsius, other packed meat products such as hot dogs, ham, and bacon at 72 degrees Celsius for over an hour, and smoked or cooked pork sausage at 72 degrees Celsius for at least 40 minutes.

Imported pork must be accompanied by a Veterinary Health Certificate from the exporting country and a Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) Import Permit issued by the Department of Agriculture, certifying that the source of the pork is ASF-free.

Domestic pork must pass inspection from the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), including pork products that do not undergo heat treatment.

Meat processors estimate that 56 of 81 provinces have some sort of ban in place on the shipment of processed pork products from Luzon, and estimated lost sales of P55 billion for the year, including P22 billion to P23 billion accounted during the industry’s peak sales season in the fourth quarter. PAMPI said meat processors typically generate about 40% of their output during the final quarter. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang