Villanueva: No need for excessive pork imports if we help local hog farmers
Senator Joel Villanueva today declared that cutting tariffs and increasing the volume of imported pork would lead to a flooded meat market which would undermine efforts to get the country’s pig farmers back on their feet.
“Give our people imported pork, and we feed them for a day or even a month. But if we help our pig farmers back on their feet, they can feed us for a lifetime,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, in a statement.
“No senator is against pork imports, per se. But all of us are against excessive pork imports. Kung lechon de leche ang kailangan, bakit napakalaking lechon naman ang gustong bilhin?” he added.
Villanueva expressed concerns on EO 128 issued by the President recently that reduced tariffs on imported pork and increased the ceiling on the volume of imported pork to 350,000 metric tons, from 54,000 metric tons.
Villanueva said this could lead to an “open season” for pork importation that would inundate a market that is having difficulties in remaining competitive with an already struggling local hog industry.
“Bagama’t tumaas ng 20% ang ‘meat inflation rate,’ huwag naman po sanang i-inflate ang epekto nito at gamiting panakot para gawing open season ang pork importation,” Villanueva said. “Ang average share po ng karneng baboy, baka at manok ay 5.7 % lang sa total family expenditures, o 6 na sentimo sa bawat piso na ginagasta ng isang pamilyang Pilipino.”
“Imported pork should come in at the right time, with the right tariff rates, at the right volume, and by the right importing parties. And that, like any well thought out policy, can only be arrived at based on facts and figures”
He said that during the Senate hearings last week, senators were looking at a carefully calibrated importation of pork, and not a seemingly unrestrained entry of foreign meat.
“Imported pork should come in at the right time, with the right tariff rates, at the right volume, and by the right importing parties. And that, like any well thought out policy, can only be arrived at based on facts and figures,” Villanueva stated.
“Sadly, our friends at the DA, despite our repeated requests, have not provided us the statistical foundation of the policy they are pushing. They admitted to not having data on basic information such as the number of hog farms and hog farm workers in the country, including those affected by the ASF outbreak,” he explained.
Villanueva also asked NEDA for a comprehensive benefit-cost analysis to capture the net welfare impact of expanded pork importation on various stakeholders.
“However, they were not able to provide any. These are the data that serve as lampposts to illuminate the road we have to take. We have to measure short-term gain against long-term pain,” Villanueva said.