Group sets ‘pork holiday’ if smuggling not stopped
An alliance of pork producers across the country has issued an ultimatum in a prelude to a “pork holiday,” demanding that Malacañang take steps to curb pork smuggling or they would withhold their meat products from the market.
The broad grouping—led by the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. (Pro-pork), National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI) and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura—is supported by the Agap party-list, Abono party-list, Sorosoro Ibaba Development Cooperative (Batangas) and 120 individuals “plus thousands more backyard hog growers.”
Pro-pork has behind it 43 organizations, while NFHFI counts 14 groups.
In an open letter to the President, the group said the inventory in backyard farms shrank by 17 percent to 7.95 million head in 2015 from 9.54 million head in 2010 when Mr. Aquino assumed office.
“The entire livestock industry, at no point in recent years, has suffered this much loss,” they told the Chief Executive. “Thousands of backyard hog raisers are losing their livelihood by the day as smuggling not only continues, but is flourishing.”
They said that during the six years of the Aquino administration, “close to 80,000 backyard hog raisers have lost their source of livelihood, and even the once viable commercial hog farms are struggling” because smuggled pork is flooding the local market.
“Based on the report of our trading partners, around 202 million kilos of pork were smuggled outright, or through misdeclaration, into the country from 2010 to mid-2015,” the allies said. “This translates to about P9 billion in lost revenues for the government.”
At the same time, the hog raisers said that production costs, particularly feed prices, were rising steadily.
The allies demanded immediate action from Malacañang, including the strict enforcement of the “quarantine first policy,” and 100-percent quarantine test and inspection at the port of first entry on all meat imports with declared 5-10 percent tariff, all imports of the top 10 meat importers of the previous year, and all imports from first-time importers.
They also demanded more stringent and transparent criteria for the accreditation of importers and the strict implementation of the labelling requirements on expiry dates.
Finally, the hog raisers asked that President Aquino immediately sign into law the approved bill that defines the smuggling of agricultural commodities as an act constituting economic sabotage.
“We can no longer sit idly in the dark and wait until our government offers solutions,” they said. “Six years is more than enough time. If no concrete action is taken immediately, we are ready to pursue other avenues to seek redress.”
The groups earlier threatened to hold a “pork holiday” of at least five days.
When asked when, they declined to be specific but said “the countdown has begun.”
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