Groups buck gov’t move to import chicken | Inquirer Business
‘BIZARRE’ STANCE

Groups buck gov’t move to import chicken

By: - Reporter / @kocampoINQ
/ 04:03 AM June 10, 2020

The Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has requested local poultry raisers to limit their production to “give way” to imports just after the latter requested the temporary suspension on the importation of poultry meat.

This prompted the United Broilers Raisers Association (Ubra) and the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI) to send an open letter to Agriculture Secretary William Dar opposing what it called a “bizarre” stance of its attached agency at a time when the local poultry sector has yet to recover from losses.

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In the letter, both groups dismissed BAI’s claim that poultry imports were too “minimal” to hurt Filipino producers, adding that imports have caused actual damage in the last 25 years. “The volume of imports need not be overwhelming to cause damage,” Ubra said. “It only takes a relatively minimal volume to move farm-gate prices from profit to loss as agricultural products are commodities.”

During the lockdown, Ubra president Bong Inciong said chicken prices fell to P70 a kilo and below, which were equal to the average production cost and left raisers with zero profit.

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Allowing the entry of imports, then, would further depress current prices.

“PCAFI fully supports the complaint sent to Secretary Dar which is apparently not taken with serious attention and without considering the plight of the poultry industry,” PCAFI said.

“Food production is the main focus of the economic managers to recover from COVID-19, but the people of DA recommended the opposite in favor of foreign producers,” it added.

Based on data from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States DA, the country’s poultry imports have been consistently increasing between 2018 and 2020.

Over the period, imports were pegged at 320,000 metric tons (MT), 345,000 MT, and 390,000 MT, respectively.

“In the kindest possible terms, this is one of the most bizarre thinking that ever emanated from DA,” Ubra Chairman Gregorio San Diego said. “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.”

Both groups urged the need to decentralize BAI, and conduct studies on trade remedies not only for the poultry sector but for the entire industry as well, among other recommendations.

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It also pressed for the strict enforcement of the Price Act to address the disconnect between prices at the farm-gate and retail.

“The need for reforms in DA and BAI is acute. These reforms have never been more urgent that in the time of COVID-19. These will assure stakeholders in the agriculture and fisheries sector that they will at last be given the chance to succeed and make a difference in the lives of the people,” Ubra said.

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