DA says pork now ‘affordable’ but consumers and farmers are not buying it

In a presser of the Inter-Agency Task Group on Food Security, the Department of Agriculture (DA) boasts that the price ceiling imposed by Malacanang is effective and that pork prices are now ‘affordable’ BUT that remains to be seen and felt by our consumers reeling from the effects of skyrocketing food prices. Many vendors and retailers went on pork and chicken holiday since Monday.

Aid producers, consumers

“Walang mabili at walang pambili ang eksena sa mga palengke. The price ceiling is good but we all need cash. What good is a price cap if consumers do not have money to buy commodities? Sufficient support to producers and consumers must follow,” says KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos. 

Tomorrow, farmers, peasant women, urban poor, and consumers will troop to the Balintawak Market in Quezon City to express solidarity with vendors, dealers, and retailers who are affected by the price ceiling. KMP says small retailers are also consumers who need urgent aid and support from the government. 

Farmers will also picket the Department of Agriculture to protest the agency’s obsession with importation as the solution to the problem of high food prices. “Dapat palakasin ang lokal na produksyon, hindi importasyon! DA is harping that importation is the last resort but it wants to quadruple the Minimum Access Volume (MAV) of imported pork to almost 400,000 metric tons (MT) from the current 54,000 MT. Massive importation and tariff reduction will be the final blow on the ailing hog and swine industries, according to Anakpawis Partylist. 

KMP and Anakpawis propose immediate and significant support to hog producers and raisers in the form of transportation subsidies and additional indemnification support. Consumers, including poor households, must also receive urgent cash aid of P10,000 per family. Farmers, on the other hand, need 15,000 production subsidies per cropping season. Pump priming and spending on production will boost the production. Ayuda at suporta hindi pautang ang dapat ibigay ng DA. 

No to massive importation and tariff reduction

KMP asserts that increasing the MAV and lowering the tariffs on pork will not effectively lower the prices of pork as claimed by DA. In fact, in 2020, the country imported twice more than the volume needed to fill in the annual consumption. 

The country’s total pork production last year was at 508,906 MT or 124, 992 MT short of the annual average consumption of 633,898 MT. However, based on DA-BAI records, the country imported almost double the needed supply or 231,140 MT of imported pork. An estimated 66% of the said imports came from Spain (31%), Canada (18%), and the United States (17%).

Records even show that prices of pork started to spike in the same period as last year’s peak importation. Retail prices of pork reached P300 per kilo in October 2020, around the same time that 37,000 MT of imported pork arrived in the country. 

“While ASF and the government’s epic failure to contain the viral disease indeed affected local pork production and supply, there is no foolproof guarantee that pork prices will stabilize once DA imports 162,000 MT of pork.” 

What is even more repulsive, DA and Secretary William Dar want to import as much as 388,790 MT. Katumbas na ito ng importasyon ng karneng baboy sa nakalipas na isa’t kalahating taon. Sobra na ito. Hindi namin tatanggapin at papayagaan ito.”

The farmers’ group said importation and tariff reduction are win-win solutions only for Secretary Dar and importers. Local backyard hog raisers that comprise 69% of the industry, and consumers who are reeling from high food prices were left out in the solutions proposed by DA,” Ramos said. 

The farmers’ group echoed the stance of local hog producers against importation. “Importasyon na naman. Sino lang ba ang may kakayanang mag-import? Mga malalaking traders at importers lang. May badyet at pondo ang gobyerno para kumpunihin ang local swine and hog industries pero ayaw gumastos ng Department of Agriculture,” Ramos laments. 

The entire livestock industry incurred an estimated loss of P56 billion in 2020 but the DA shelled out a very meager P1.3 billion as indemnification for culled hogs. ###

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