Villanueva to DA: Aid to local hog farmers must arrive ahead of pork imports
Government assistance to devastated local pig farms must arrive ahead of pork imports, Senator Joel Villanueva said in warning agriculture officials that “farmers will feel betrayed if imports will flood the market, while aid to them will come in trickles.”
“Mahirap naman kung ang ETA o estimated time of arrival ng imported pork ay mas maaga kesa delivery ng ayuda sa mga lokal na magbababoy,” Villanueva said.
Villanueva aired the warning after noting that the Department of Agriculture (DA) is two years delayed in rolling out a “clear and comprehensive strategy in helping the local hog industry recover from the African Swine Fever outbreak.”
At Tuesday’s resumption of the Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry into the ASF outbreak, Villanueva said the “DA has not yet presented a grand plan that would serve as a recovery road map to guide and inspire our local hog farmers.”
“It seems there is no viable plan of action in place to revive our local hog industry. Ni-hindi po updated ang database ng ating mga hog farmers,” he said.
For lack of this data base, farmers cannot claim insurance or are denied indemnification, Villanueva said. “Kaya ang resulta, dalawang taon na karamihan wala pang tulong na natatanggap.”
The senator pressed the DA to explain “the mechanics and the difference between DA’s own indemnification program for hog farmers and the insurance system for livestock raisers under the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp.”
DA officials said its indemnification program pays about P5,000 per culled pig while PCIC livestock insurance sets it at P10,000 per head.
But two bureaucratic snags delay the pay outs: the lack of implementing guidelines and a registry of pig farmers.
“May kambal na benepisyo po ang pagpapababa ng presyo ng pork feeds: Liliit ang exposure ng mga babuyan sa kaning baboy na maaaring may dalang ASF, at matutulungan pa silang mapababa ang operation costs at makaahon sa dagok ng ASF”
Per DA rules, backyard hog farmers must be registered under the DA’s Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture (RSBSA), the national listing of farmers. Commercial hog farmers, on the other hand, pay a premium to get livestock insurance coverage.
If this is the requisite, then it is the DA’s job to ramp up the listing of pig farmers in the RSBSA.
“O hindi ba pwedeng sapat na pruweba yung namatayan ka para mabigyan ng ayuda? Kasi kung ihahambing ito sa insurance ng tao, meron ng death certificate pero inoobliga pang i-register ang birth, at ikuha ng death certificate ang patay,” Villanueva said.
He said drawing up the beneficiaries list must begin with the 493 cities and municipalities tagged by the DA as ASF hard-hit areas. “Ang nakakalungkot po kasi, pati ang listahan dito ay wala pa rin. Hihintayin pa po ba natin maglabas ng ng obituary ang mga magbababoy?”
Villanueva said a swine recovery program must include a plan to bring down prices of animal feeds to discourage farmers from giving out swill to their livestock, which is a factor in the spread of ASF.
“May kambal na benepisyo po ang pagpapababa ng presyo ng pork feeds: Liliit ang exposure ng mga babuyan sa kaning baboy na maaaring may dalang ASF, at matutulungan pa silang mapababa ang operation costs at makaahon sa dagok ng ASF,” he said.