Support fund for hog industry proposed in Senate

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As the African swine fever (ASF) continues to cost the local industry billions of pesos in lost livelihoods, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan wants to use pork import tariffs to fund pig repopulation and other efforts to control ASF.

Pangilinan on Wednesday filed Senate Bill 2176 or The Affordable Pork Act of 2021 which seeks to create what is to be called The Swine Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (SCEF) to help curtail the spread of ASF and contribute to the recovery of the industry.

“Kung ano’ng taripa ang makuha sa pag-angkat ng baboy sa ibang bansa, gamitin sa pagsugpo ng ASF, subsidies para sa pag-transport ng mga baboy mula sa pig farms patungo sa merkado, pagpapautang at insurance sa mga magbababoy, sa repopulation, sa pangkalahatang pag-unlad ng industriya,” said the former food security secretary.

“Parte ng hapag-kainan natin ang baboy. Extra income din ang pagbababoy sa marami nating magsasaka. Gusto nating makabangon mula sa ASF at magkaroon ng mabuting buhay ang ating mga magbababoy,” he added.

The SCEF is to be funded from all duties collected from the swine meat importation for the next six years and shall be placed as a Special Account in the General Fund.

Collection for the SCEF may be extended upon the recommendation of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Agricultural and Fisheries Modernization and subsequent approval of Congress.

In 2020, retail prices of pork have spiked from a stable 224 pesos per kilogram to as high as 380 pesos to 400 pesos per kilogram and continue to stay at that range to this day. The spike in retail prices pushed meat inflation from 3.5 percent to 4.4 percent in 2019 and 2020, respectively, to 19.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021. In March 2021, the elevated meat inflation was the top contributor to overall inflation.

In the bill’s explanatory note, Pangilinan said: “The ASF outbreak has affected the livelihood of over 68,000 hog raisers and has already cost the local hog industry and allied sectors more than P100 billion.

“Hog raisers estimate that around 36 percent of the total hog population or about 5 million heads are affected by the ASF. In May 2021, a State of Calamity throughout the country was declared due to the outbreak.”

Pangilinan believes that the Department of Agriculture (DA) would have been able to lessen the blow of the ASF had they have been given sufficient funding to combat the highly contagious and deadly disease.

In 2020, only 2.7 billion pesos of the proposed 8.5 billion pesos was approved as budget for the livestock sector. For 2021, only 3 billion pesos out of the 12.83-billion-peso budget proposal for the sector was granted. Of the 3 billion pesos, only 768.5 million pesos has been allocated for the swine sector.

The proposed measure indicates that interventions from the SCEF shall be based on institutionalized data gathered and validated by the DA, the Philippine Statistics Authority, the Bureau of Customs, and agricultural producers.

To ensure that these funds are being utilized properly, the bill requires the DA and all pertinent agencies to submit a report on the status of SCEF and an impact assessment of the programs under the Act.

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