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Agri chief appeals to pork, poultry producers to hold off strike

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02:41 AM May 9th, 2012

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By: Kristine L. Alave, May 9th, 2012 02:41 AM

Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala

MANILA, Philippines — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala appealed to local pork and poultry producers not to push through with their meat holiday as it could open the floodgates for imported meats.

Alcala, in a recent interview, said the Department of Agriculture, Department of Finance, and the Bureau of Customs would sit down with the pork and poultry breeders and importers to “settle once and for all” their feud over smuggling.

Alcala agreed that the technical smuggling of pork and poultry products have put local growers at a disadvantage. Since imported products are cheaper, they have eased out the local meats in the market.

“Because they are so cheap, people eschews our better-tasting locally produce for the cheaper meat,” he said.  The livestock industry have threatened to hold a pork and chicken holiday, on which they will not slaughter or sell their meats to the market, to compel authorities to stop the smuggling of imported frozen meats. According to the swine producers, unfair competition from cheap smuggled pork has cost them as much as P3.2 billion a month. This has totaled P12.8 billion from January to April 2012.

Alcala appealed to the swine and chicken raisers not to proceed with the meat holiday as it would open the market to frozen and imported products. “Even if they hold a pork holiday, people would still consume chicken and meat,” he said.

“Then they might think that frozen meats do not taste differently…That’s what I am afraid of because many Filipino families benefit from the local chicken and swine industry,” he said.

Alcala said the entry of more imported meats in the local market would significantly lower the income of rural households. These backyard producers sell meats in the wet markets and supply food companies and processors.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Food Processors, whose members buy meat abroad for their raw requirement, said the pork and chicken holiday threat was tantamount to blackmail.

The meat processors dismissed allegations of rampant pork smuggling and said the hog raisers’ declining sales might stem from the short supply of quality meat in the market.

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