AGRICULTURE Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is looking at the possibility of removing the minimum access volume (MAV) on chicken as a preliminary step in imposing special safeguards (SSGs) to protect domestic producers.
“UBRA [the United Broiler Raisers Association] has suggested [the removal of the MAV] which we are looking into right now,” Mr. Piñol said in an interview with DZMM.
He said the proposal for concrete action was more “welcome” than some of the criticism the DA has come in for as local producers find themselves pressured by weak prices due to competition from imports of pork and chicken.
“There was a marked increase in the importation of pork and chicken, but these are problems actually that we can address if we sit down together and discuss the solutions rather than label us as the Department of Importation,” Mr. Piñol said in the radio interview.
The Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG) led by Chairman Rosendo O. So called the DA the Department of Importation in the course of lobbying for a total meat import ban from Europe, which he said will minimize the chances of African Swine Fever (ASF) reaching the Philippines.
In letters to Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares and Senator Cynthia A. Villar dated Feb. 26, SINAG requested a public hearing to tackle ASF and falling hog prices.
“The ASF outbreak has reached Vietnam, making the Philippines more susceptible to the ASF pandemic and yet the quarantine and border control measures at our airports and seaports and other contingency preparations supposedly being carried out by the DA remain inadequate given the personal testaments and reports reaching us over a period of four weeks. The DA may be unaware of the devastating impact to the agriculture sector once ASF reaches the country. Or perhaps, that is the intention to justify more pork importation which is our second pressing concern,” SINAG said.
“Backyard farmers have been raising their concern about the progressive decrease of farmgate prices for hogs in the last six months, as imported pork is flooding the market. Some (imports) are now being brazenly sold at wet markets. At no moment in our country’s history have we been importing this much pork — a whopping 392 million kilos for 2018. Chicken imports on the other hand for 2018 were 311 million kilos,” SINAG added.
On Sunday, UBRA President Elias Jose M. Inciong said that his group is “calling for the abolition of the MAV for chicken so that the special safeguard (SSG) trade remedy can apply to all imports.” — Reicelene Joy N. Ignacio