Imee: Importation May Kill Local Pork Industry Faster Than African Swine Fever

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Senator Imee Marcos has called on the government to prevent pork importers from taking over local market supply and pushing Filipino producers out of business.

“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.

“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,” Marcos added.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on economic affairs, said the DA should instead speed up its investigation into the hoarding of pork products that may be causing an artificial hike in market prices amid the spread of 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.

Prices of pork imports from the United Regions, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Brazil suggested excessive profits were being made at the expense of consumers.

Marcos cited that the import cost of a 40-foot container of frozen pork belly (liempo) from Spain was Php117.87 per kilo, already including a 40% tariff.

“Compare that to its market price of as much as Php450 per kilo. Even if you add cold chain, storage and outlet delivery costs, the meat importer’s costs would only amount to about Php153 per kilo,” Marcos pointed out.

Besides 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% of its supply from the Visayas and Mindanao.

Marcos pointed out that the DA got the single biggest item for emergency and stimulus funding under Bayanihan 2, amounting to Php24 billion.

“DA’s spending must be investigated, as well as the failure of the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) to implement its suggested retail prices,” Marcos said.

Marcos’s Senate Resolution 619 calling the government’s consumer price arbiters to an inquiry will be taken up in a joint hearing of the committees on agriculture, food and agrarian reform and trade, commerce and entrepreneurship on Monday.