DA insists: No order to stop poultry production in PH
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has clarified that it has not ordered the poultry industry to stop production, despite complaints from broiler raisers that they were asked to do so, in order to give way for imported meat products.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a briefing on Thursday that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has not released any directives on the issue, and that these claims are only ‘fake news’.
Dar also said that he has already discussed the matter with BAI chief Director Ronnie Domingo, who may have been misunderstood.
“Wala namang ini-issue ang kagawaran ng pagsasaka or the Bureau of Animal Industry na ipatigil na. Wala po ‘yon, fake news po ‘yon, at huwag nating bigyang diin o patulan,” Dar stressed.
(Neither the Department of Agriculture nor the Bureau of Animal Industry issued an order to stop production. That’s not true, that’s fake news, and let us refrain from placing our attention on these things.)
“Si Director Ronnie Domingo ay kinlarify niya na kaninang umaga no’ng nagkita kami, na wala rin siyang gano’ng sinabi,” he added.
(Director Ronnie Domingo has already clarified the issue this morning when we talked and he explained he said nothing like that.)
Dar was reacting to an open letter addressed to him, written by the United Broilers Raisers Association (Ubra) and the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), asking why DA and BAI was keen on making such moves amid problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports from the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Wednesday stated that the groups dismissed BAI’s claims that poultry imports would not hurt the local industry, as it has supposedly caused minimal damages in the last 25 years.
But Ubra president Bong Inciong emphasized that chicken prices already fell to P70 per kilo during the COVID-19 lockdown periods, which means that raisers do not get any profit. He warned that allowing the entry of imported meat would further depress current prices.
“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.”
However, Dar insisted that the DA is not stopping production despite an oversupply of poultry products. Rather, what they are doing is to balance the available products, by import varieties that are not available locally.
But he promised that if imported products are available in the country, these would be prioritized by even the meat processors.
“Itong poultry industry ay may overproduction if you can call it that, at marami sa imbentaryo so to speak. At ‘yan ay binabalanse po natin ‘don sa kung walang produkto na kailangan po ng mga processors, ‘yong deboned na […] ‘yon po ang pinapayagan ng Bureau of Animal Industry,” he explained.
(This poultry industry has an overproduction if you can call it that, and we have a lot in the inventory so to speak. And we balance that by purchasing products needed by processors that are not available locally, like deboned meat, that is what the Bureau of Animal Industry allows.)
“Pero kung mayroon naman ‘yong produkto na ‘yan dito, ay gusto na rin tumulong ‘yong processors na bibilhin na dito na sa domestic poultry raisers natin. So talagang namisunderstood lang,” Dar added.
(But if we have those products here, then the processors expressed willingness to help by purchasing the products from our domestic poultry raisers.)
This issue with the poultry industry is only one of the topics discussed by Dar during the briefing, the other one being the allegations of farmers that fertilizers given as a COVID-19 assistance were overpriced.
Dar defended the purchase of 1.811 million bags of urea fertilizers for P1,035 each, saying that these are already cheap despite farmers’ claims that they found fertilizers worth P860 in Central Luzon.
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