A PARTY-LIST legislator representing farmers has filed a bill providing for incentives to companies that invest in contract farming with cooperatives or agrarian reform beneficiaries.

Economic Affairs Committee chair and AAMBIS-Owa Rep. Sharon S. Garin filed House Bill No. 3369, which will become the Corporate Farming Program Act if passed. It lists tax incentives for corporations and partnerships that make such investments, including exemptions from custom duties and value added tax (VAT).

“The private sector drives the growth of most ASEAN economies. We acknowledge that the participation of the private sector is crucial in our goal to uplift the lives of small and marginalized farmers, and subsequently, the state of the agriculture sector,” Ms. Garin said in a statement Monday.

The bill in particular will exempt from customs duties imports of agricultural inputs such as seed, fertilizer, and machinery among others; and a VAT exemption for importing fertilizer, seed and seedlings.

Other incentives include credit programs from the government and private banks.

Qualified corporations or partnerships may avail of the incentives by entering management contracts or joint venture arrangements with agrarian reform beneficiaries.

They may also enter into contractual arrangements with farmers’ organizations and agrarian reform communities, in which the company will provide production input and technical services and then acquire the produce.

Under this arrangement, local government units will be empowered to identify appropriate land for corporate farming.

Under the bill, corporations and partnerships may also lease private agricultural land for rice and corn production through an agreement with landowners, farmers’ organization or agrarian reform communities.

The bill provides for lease agreements of seven years, renewable for another seven.

“Corporate farming assures higher income for our farmers because it will allow them to partake of the margins in primary production and the rest of the value chain to which they are not normally entitled.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan