Poultry raisers seek legislative measure on import stoppage

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Local poultry raisers are seeking legislative intervention in the country’s meat importation issue as it lobbies that the Department of Agriculture be given authority to suspend imports when needed.

In another letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar, the United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA) is requesting that the DA spearhead a legislative effort to seek clear authority that in certain circumstances the secretary of agriculture may suspend importation.

“So that there will be no more excuses. The Executive should be given clear authority by Congress to stop importation when it imperils the sector,” UBRA president Elias Jose Inciong said.

Since May, stakeholders have been calling for a temporary halt in imports amid a glut in the country as the pandemic has affected the demand for chicken meat.

However, the DA made it clear that it is not within its powers to suspend imports. Instead, it strengthened the requirements for the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances.

“Former agriculture secretary Edgardo Angara was able to suspend imports in 2000 when the industry was in mortal danger from unfair competition and smuggling. Supervening events, however, clearly show that the present DA is not so inclined ostensibly because of our World Trade Organization commitments,” Inciong said.

“While we disagree with this decision, we have no choice but to accept our present reality and leave it all to prayer,” he said.

UBRA said it would lobby the measure to the Committees on Agriculture and Food in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, headed by Rep. Wilfrido Enverga and Sen. Cynthia Villar, respectively.

Further, UBRA is hoping that there would be no second enhanced community quarantine or lockdown in Metro Manila, Central Luzon and Calabarzon that would likely affect supply and demand of chicken again.

Metro Manila is the principal market for broilers, while Central Luzon and Calabarzon are the top producers in the country.

Latest data from the National Meat Inspection Service showed that frozen inventory of chicken and pork in cold storages remains full.

For dressed chicken, total inventory as of June 22 is at 85.8 million kilograms, up 139 percent from last year’s 35.9 million kilos.



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