Marcos warns increasing pork imports may ‘slaughter’ local hog raisers
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Imee Marcos on Sunday, January 31, 2021, warned that raising pork importation could push Filipino producers out of business as she called on the government to prevent importers from taking over the local market supply.
“The slaughter of our local hog raisers will begin if the Department of Agriculture (DA) executes its plan to raise the minimum access volume of pork imports by as much as three times the present 54,000 metric tons,” Marcos said in a statement.
“The DA may be overcompensating in its rush to increase imports to reduce consumer prices. It may deal the coup de grace to our pork industry before Vietnam could release a vaccine against African swine fever (ASF) later this year,” she added.
Marcos, chair of the Senate committee on economic affairs, said the DA should instead expedite its investigation into the hoarding of pork products that may be causing an artificial hike in market prices amid the spread of African swine fever (ASF), particularly in Luzon.
“Many local hog raisers have already shut down their business. Importation amid the Covid-19 pandemic means more local jobs will be lost and surrendering the country’s food security to foreigners,” Marcos said.
The senator noted that prices of pork imports from the United States, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Brazil “suggested excessive profits were being made at the expense of consumers.”
She said the import cost of a 40-foot container of frozen pork belly (liempo) from Spain was P117.87 per kilo, already including a 40-percent tariff.
“Compare that to its market price of as much as P450 per kilo. Even if you add cold chain, storage and outlet delivery costs, the meat importer’s costs would only amount to about P153 per kilo,” Marcos said.
Aside from arresting hoarders and profiteers, Marcos said the government can also bring down meat prices by subsidizing the cost of transporting pork products to Luzon, which imports about 80 percent of its supply from the Visayas and Mindanao.
Marcos also pointed out that the DA got the “single biggest item for emergency and stimulus funding” under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, amounting to P24 billion.
“DA’s spending must be investigated, as well as the failure of the [Department of Trade and Industry] to implement its suggested retail prices,” she said.
Marcos earlier filed a resolution calling the government’s consumer price arbiters to an inquiry which is scheduled to be taken up in a joint hearing of the committees on agriculture, food and agrarian reform and trade, commerce and entrepreneurship on Monday.
The inquiry will also look into the rising food prices in the country.
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