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Imports to worsen meat mart situation

The slaughter of our local hog raisers will begin if the Department of Agriculture executes its plan to raise the minimum access volume



Government should prevent importers from taking over the local supply of pork meat which will kill local producers, Senator Imee Marcos said yesterday.

“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.

Probe hoarding
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 the 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 States, Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Brazil suggested excessive profits were being made at the expense of consumers.
Marcos cited 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.

Prices inflated
“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 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 percent 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 P24 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.

Check costs
Deputy Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon Rep. Bernadette Herrera, meanwhile, urged the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to do something about the rising cost of food products, particularly meat and vegetables.

Herrera made the remark after the DA reported that the prices of most meats and vegetables have spiked by up to 66 percent during the first month of 2021.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the increasing prices of food products already pushed the country’s inflation rate to 3.5 percent last December.

Herrera said the economic crisis as a result of the onslaught of the Covid-19 coupled by skyrocketing food prices is adding more suffering to the people.

“It is not right that we let our people endure the soaring food prices since many of them have already lost their jobs and are facing a reduction in their income because of the pandemic,” Herrera said in a statement.