MANILA – Small farmers tilling two hectares and below of rice land will get an annual direct cash assistance under a new law signed by President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte signed Republic Act (R.A.) No. 11598 also known as Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act on Dec. 10, 2021. The copy of the law was released to reporters on Thursday.

In signing the law, Duterte recognized the policy of the State to address the plight of small farmers in the country.

“The State recognizes the urgency of intervening for our farmers in light of the current state of declining palay prices and the crippling effects of the Coronavirus Disease-19 or Covid-19 pandemic. Towards this end, the State shall provide monetary assistance to the hardest hit segments of the country's small farmers in the form of actual giving of cash to farmers,” RA 11598 read.

RA 11598 authorizes the Department of Agriculture (DA) to use the monies from the annual tariff revenues in excess of PHP10 billion on the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) to directly provide cash assistance to the small farmers until 2024.

The law mandates Bureau of Customs (BOC) to directly remit to the DA the said excess funds.

The BOC and the DA shall, at the end of each year, submit separate reports to Congress, through the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform and the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, on the remittance of funds and the actual fund disbursement for the year.

The source of funds for the annual direct cash assistance to farmers shall be the excess of PHP10 billion of the annual tariff revenues from rice importation pursuant to RA No. 11203 or the Rice Tariffication Law (RTL).

RA 11203 removes government limits, called quantitative restrictions (QRs) on rice importation.

The Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act was passed by the House of Representatives as House Bill No. 9950 on Sept. 15, 2021 and adopted by the Senate of the Philippines as an amendment to Senate Bill No. 1927 on Sept. 21, 2021. (PNA)