AGRICULTURE Secretary William D. Dar said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) did not ask the poultry industry to limit production.

“In fact, we continue to encourage not only the poultry industry but also other key players in the food value chain to continuously elevate their game, as our role of ensuring adequate, accessible and affordable food for our countrymen was thrust into the national limelight due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic,” Mr. Dar said in a statement.

Mr. Dar said that the DA is aware of the oversupply currently experienced by the industry, with the United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA) and other poultry raisers calling for limits on poultry imports.

“We believe the situation is temporary and brought about mainly by the contraction of market demand due to the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) measures implemented by the government to contain the threat of COVID 19,” Mr. Dar said.

Mr. Dar said that the DA, through the Bureau of Animal Industry and National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS), among others, is in constant talks with UBRA to help resolve major industry concerns.

“We mutually agreed to provide them financial assistance to help some of their members rise above the current crisis,” Mr. Dar said.

Meanwhile, in response to high imports of mechanically-deboned meat (MDM), Mr. Dar said that the DA, through the NMIS, will establish more triple AAA rated high-quality slaughterhouses in 2021, including a facility to produce MDM, which in turn, will reduce imports.

The DA said that 70% of poultry imports consist of MDM, offal, and chicken skin, which are not produced in bulk and consolidated here.

“We should also consider balancing the need of the meat processing sector, which makes available more food products for consumers,” Mr. Dar said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave