Government to release fresh P3 billion cash assistance for farmers

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government will release another P3 billion in cash assistance to farmers affected by the steep drop in palay (unhusked rice) prices following the opening up of the rice industry to cheap imports.

In a briefing yesterday, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said P3 billion would be released by 2020 on top of the earlier P3 billion announced.

“A total of P6 billion for 2019 and 2020 will be given as unconditional cash assistance and we will zero in this time around for farmers tilling 1.01 to two hectares at the level of P5,000 each farmer,” Dar said.

“This additional P3 billion has been the result of the discussion of agencies involved in the tariffication,” he said.

Last Oct. 18, Dar announced the government just opted to extend cash assistance amounting to P3 billion to farmers instead of imposing safeguard measures.

About P3 billion is expected to be disbursed to some 600,000 farmers starting next month as soon as guidelines are finished.

The other P3 billion, targeted to be released next year, will also cover 600,000 farmers.

The cash assistance will be taken from the excess tariffs being collected under the Rice Tariffication Law.

The government has so far collected P11.4 billion since the law took effect in March.

The Bureau of Customs earlier said revenues from the opening up of the rice market would likely yield P15 billion this year, exceeding the P10 billion target under the law.

“Any excess from the tariff will be used for cash transfer and support for crop insurance and crop diversification programs,” Dar said.

The tariff collection from rice importation will be allocated for the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund, which will be used for programs to boost the productivity and global competitiveness of local farmers.

The excess of the P10 billion will likewise go to the farmers especially those affected by the drop in palay prices.

The new cash assistance is different from the loan assistance the DA released last August where the Agricultural Credit Policy Council approved the Expanded Survival and Recovery Assistance Program for Rice Farmers or SURE Aid for P2.5 billion.



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