Poultry stakeholders slam limit in production

Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) - June 10, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local poultry raisers have slammed the government’s move to limit their production.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the United Broilers and Raisers’ Association (UBRA) said the volume of imports is small compared to local production and, therefore, could not be a threat.

“Imports caused actual damage in the last 25 years. The volume of imports need not be overwhelming to cause damage. It only takes a relatively minimal volume to move farmgate prices from profit to loss as agricultural products are commodities,” Ubra president Elias Jose Inciong said.

The Philippines has decided not to suspend the importation of chicken meat and its products despite calls from stakeholders amid an oversupply resulting in the decline of farmgate prices.

Instead, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) asked poultry producers to limit their production to give way to foreign producers.

“BAI recommended to us to self-regulate and limit local production. In the kindest possible terms, this is one of the most bizarre thinking that ever emanated from the DA. The incongruence is glaring,” Inciong said.

“Prices of imports are low because these are coming from countries with subsidized agriculture systems,” he said.

The United States Department of Agriculture earlier said the country’s poultry import is at an increasing rate from 320,000 metric tons in 2018 to 345,000 MT  last year and 390,000 MT this year.

“At a time when the Secretary of DA, together with the economic managers, is encouraging local production, BAI is telling a key industry to limit production so as to make space for imports,” Inciong said.

To make it even worse, BAI suggested that producers explore the export markets.

“It is disappointing, to say the least, that BAI is pretending to be unaware of the competitive international market dominated by Brazil,  Thailand and the US.   For exports to happen, an ecosystem must be established with the cooperation of government, academe, and the private sector,” Inciong said.

UBRA called on the DA to implement reforms in the agency, including the reformatting of systems to simplify collection of tariffs and duties, and addressing undervaluation through methods allowed by the World Trade Organization on the regular comparison and publication of the composition and volume of exports.

It also called for the resolution of the alleged abuses in the implementation of customs bonded warehouse zero tariff privileges, saying the government has failed to present data on this for many years now.

The DA was also asked to implement cold chain-ready quarantine facilities at the Customs border, support for the corn sector and the strict enforcement of the Price Act.

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