Hog producers want price ceilings for pork increased to ₱330-₱360 per kilo

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 16) — The Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines or ProPork on Tuesday recommended adjustments to the two-month price ceilings for certain meat products sold in Metro Manila, saying this will attract hog raisers to invest in pork production again.

President Rodrigo Duterte, upon the recommendation of the Department of Agriculture, signed on Feb. 1 Executive Order No. 124 which imposes 60-day price ceilings of ₱270 per kilogram for kasim and pigue, and ₱300 per kilogram for liempo. ProPork President Edwin Chen proposed a price ceiling of ₱330 per kilo for kasim and pigue, and ₱360 per kilo for liempo.

"Ang hiling namin kung pwede iyong ₱270 to ₱300 gawing ₱330 to ₱360. Kahit wala na iyong subsidy. Kasi iyong subsidy na iyon di 'yan long term, parang ano lang temporary solution," Chen told a House hearing on the alleged meat products shortage in the National Capital Region.

[Translation: Our request is if possible, change the price ceilings — from ₱270 to ₱300, to ₱330 to ₱360. Because the subsidy offered by the DA is not a long term but a temporary solution.]

Chen also asked the DA to raise to ₱10,000 the compensation for hog farmers who were forced to cull their pigs infected by African Swine Fever.

Hog raisers could receive ₱5,000 for every pig culled because of ASF. The agency provides indemnification for a maximum of 20 culled pigs. To date, around ₱1.3 billion have been released to affected hog producers, Bureau of Animal Industry Director Reildrin Morales said in the same hearing. The distribution of compensation funds to affected hog farmers in Luzon is ongoing.

Chen noted hog raisers' reluctance to reopen their businesses amid the price ceilings, and the costly problem of ASF.

"Ang problema natin ngayon ay nawalan sila ng gana. Humina na ang loob ng mga producer. Nakita nila ang aksyon ng DA at DTI ay kontra pa sa kanila," Chen added.

[Translation: Our problem now is they have lost interest. The producers were discouraged. And we have seen the DA and the DTI took actions that have put them at a disadvantage.]

Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in the same hearing they are "open" to dialogue on the possible new cost structure of the said commodities. "We are willing to sit down and listen to stakeholders," he said.

Proposal to import more pork at lower tariff awaits Duterte's signature

As local pork supply remains tight due to the ASF, the DA is proposing to increase the quota for pork imports that will be charged lower tariffs to cover the projected supply deficit this year.

"Last night, we have submitted to Malacañang the resolution by the MAV Management Council recommending an increase in the MAV (minimum access volume) for pork for 2021 and is now awaiting the President's signature," Dar said.

Dar said they are pushing to increase the MAV threshold for imported pork to 404,210 metric tons from the current 54,000 MT. Imports within the MAV are subject to a 30% tariff, while those outside the quota will be charged a 40% tax.

Estimates from the DA National Livestock Program as of Jan. 29 showed the expected pork supply deficit for 2021 is 388,790 MT.

Dar also said the Tariff Commission is finalizing its recommendation to lower tariffs on pork imports for a year to stabilize prices.

But reducing the taxes on imported pork may further discourage hog producers to go back to pork production, the National Federation of Hog Farmers warned.

"In the long term po talaga, 100% ang mawawala sa atin sa industry," said Chester Tan, president of the National Federation of Hog Farmers.

[Translation: In the long term, 100% of local producers will leave the industry.]