Farmers to DA: State of emergency not necessary, use political will to address ASF

Make the Task Group of Food Security work

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) today rejected the Department of Agriculture’s proposal for Malacanang to declare a state of emergency to address the spread of African Swine Flu (ASF) that has affected more than close to 4.7 million hogs in the country. 

DA’s sense of urgency came two years late. ASF started in 2019 and became a lingering problem since then, and plunging the local swine industry to its worst-ever production decline and inventory level of 9.72 million pig heads. As of January, the local inventory declined by 24.1 percent. Backyard farms, which account for 71% of hogs raised, decreased by 13.3%, while the population in commercial farms dropped by 41.8 percent.

“DA is mishandling the ASF problem and giving only skewed solutions — from the 1-7-10 containment and culling protocols, price ceiling on pork prices, to the unpopular proposal to increase importation volume and lower tariffs. Strong political will and not a state of emergency is needed to address the ASF. The local hog problem cannot be solved with hogging of funds and budget by the DA,” says KMP chairperson emeritus and Anakpawis chair Rafael Mariano. 

Mariano said if only the DA and the government’s Task Group on Food Security exercise political will, they can effectively capacitate national agencies and LGUs to work together and stop the spread of ASF. 

“We know all too well DA’s ulterior motive with the declaration of state of emergency proposal — para mabuksan ang kaban ng bayan at makapaglabas ng pondo para umano sa pagsugpo ng ASF. DA wants to access all funds available — the contingency fund and quick response fund. However, none of these are reaching local hog raisers and producers, especially backyard hog farmers who have yet to receive indemnification from the government,” Mariano said.  

“DA’s neglect led to this dire and desperate situation. The Duterte administration even slashed the budget of the National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) from Php480.6 million in 2019 when ASF hit the country to only Php413.4 million in 2020, and a minimal increase to Php427.9 million this year.

Mariano said farmers demand direct support, not loans, to hog raisers. The group also reiterated its opposition to the proposal to reduce tariff that will result in P11.8 billion loss in tariff revenues. #

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