A SENIOR legislator has filed a bill seeking P8.4 billion in 2019 supplemental appropriations for rice farmers, packaged as an emergency fund disbursing conditional cash transfers (CCT) of P7,000 per farmer.

Representative Jose Ma. Clemente S. Salceda of the second district of Albay, who chairs the ways and Means Committee, filed House Bill 5669 on Wednesday, which if passed will be known as An Act Appropriating the Sum of Eight Billion Four Hundred Million Pesos (P8,400,000,000) As Supplemental Appropriations For FY 2019, And For Other Purposes.

Eligible rice farmers must be part of a cooperative and cultivate two hectares or less in locations where prices paid by private traders has fallen as low as P17 per kilogram of palay, or unmilled rice, the form in which farmers sell their harvest.

In an explanatory note, Mr. Salceda said apart from the negative impact on prices of rice imports unleashed by the Rice Tariffication Law, farmers are also saddled with high production costs, depressing their income.

He said high production costs are the result of “overdue farm modernization, high cost of inputs, lack of post-harvest facilities, lack of access to affordable credit and lack of training.” — Genshen L. Espedido