AKO Bicol party-list representative Elizaldy Co urged on Thursday Agriculture Secretary William Dar to fire officials of the Bureau of Animal Industry for alleged bias for chicken importation to the detriment of Filipino farmers.
The recent BAI pronouncement urging local poultry producers to limit production and “give way” to imports is anti-Filipino, Co said in a statement.
“It’s like rubbing salt to the wounds of local poultry raisers facing the grim specter of bankruptcy and business closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” he stressed.
The solon said unabated chicken importation was flooding the local market with chicken meat from unknown foreign sources which could pose severe health hazards to consumers.
BAI officials, he said, failed to show evidence of overpricing or even lack of local supply to justify more imports.
“Even at the start of the Luzonwide lockdown, chicken prices have fallen to precariously low levels of P60 to P70 per kilo which is unsustainable. Thus, allowing more imports at a time of local oversupply is both shady and unpatriotic,” Co said.
He asked Dar to review BAI’s decision making and whether its officials are working for Filipino or foreign interests.
“Whoever is making these questionable anti-local and pro-imported guidelines have no business being in public service. It endangers the Philippine economy and could harm a long list of taxpayers. This should never be allowed to happen,” he added.
Co echoed the position of the United Broilers Association questioning BAI’s claim that poultry imports were too “minimal” to hurt local producers.
“I agree with Atty. Bong Inciong that unbridled importation has caused so much damage to the poultry industry in the last 25 years. It’s true that the volume of imports need not be overwhelming to cause damage. We’ve seen how it depressed prices to unsustainable levels,” he said.
Co stressed that apart from causing damage to local producers, the policy of favoring imports over local production is a grave threat to the country’s food security.
Earlier on, ;pca; broiler raisers refuted the BAI’s claim that chicken meat imports did not threaten domestic poultry industry, and criticized the agency for its “incongruent” policy recommendations amid a supply glut that caused producers to lose millions in profit.
In an open letter addressed to Dar, the United Broiler Raisers Association narrated its disappointments and criticisms of the BAI, an attached agency of the Department of Agriculture.
UBRA explained they were invited to attend a virtual meeting by the Philippine Council on Agriculture and Fisheries regarding the current situation of the local broiler industry.
However, UBRA said their proposal to suspend chicken meat importation amid the local supply glut was thumbed down immediately.
Worse, UBRA said BAI’s presentation was “designed to dismiss the threat of imports” on the local poultry industry.
“The BAI initially argued that the volume of imports was small in proportion to local production and therefore could not be a threat. We replied that it was not a mere threat but that it has caused actual damage in the last 25 years,” the group said in the letter dated June 5.
“The volume of imports need not be overwhelming to cause damage. It only takes a relatively minimal volume to move farm-gate prices from profit to losses as agricultural products are commodities,” the group added. After arguing that there is no need to suspend imports, the BAI told them to just “self-regulate and limit” local production to resolve the present supply glut, UBRA said.
UBRA pointed out that such policy recommendations ran counter to the economic managers’ pronouncements of boosting domestic food production as part of the new normal.
“In the kindest possible terms, this is one of the most bizarre thinking that ever emanated from the DA. The incongruence is glaring,” UBRA said.
UBRA added: “As if matters could not get any stranger, we were then told to go into exports. It is disappointing, to say the least, that the BAI is pretending to be unaware of the competitive environment in the international market.”