House panel to probe plan to raise poultry imports

By Filane Mikee Cervantes

June 11, 2020, 6:16 pm

MANILA – The House Committee on Agriculture and Food will look into the proposal to increase the volume of poultry imports, its chairman said on Thursday.

Quezon Rep. Mark Enverga, panel chair, expressed apprehension over the recent state of the poultry industry in the country following reports that the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) has requested local poultry raisers to limit their production to give market space for imports.

Enverga said the government should protect local producers and manufacturers by supporting food production especially in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

He cited the open letter of the United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA) to the agriculture department, dismissing BAI’s claim that poultry imports were too “minimal” to hurt Filipino producers, adding that imports have caused actual damage in the last 25 years.

"UBRA's statement on the challenges and issues besetting the poultry industry today needs to be thoroughly discussed, addressed, and acted upon," Enverga said.

"The poultry producers deserve to be heard and be assured that the government is doing its share to combat the problem arising from high levels of importation of poultry's products, while we are experiencing an oversupply of broilers in the market," he added.

Enverga said there should be a review of importation policies, monitoring, and control, as the country faces issues of smuggling, illegal imports, and unfair trade practices.

He questioned the timing of government action related to its poultry products importation, stressing that the government and the industry must work together and outline immediate courses of action to help the local broilers.

"Reforms are definitely needed particularly in our current tariff system and implementation. Enforcement of our protection and regulations against unfair trade practices must be enhanced. And, continued action planning of the government and various stakeholders must be undertaken," he added.

Agriculture Secretary William Dar, however, clarified that BAI did not ask poultry raisers to limit local production.

"It's a miscommunication. BAI never had intended to tell UBRA and the rest to stop production," Dar said. (PNA)