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The Philippines' Agriculture Department will consider recommending that the tariff rates be increased for all types of imported meat products in response to a request for protection from hog producers, Secretary Proceso Alcala said over the weekend.
“The country’s low tariff rates on offal, jowls and skin are the main reasons why there is a deluge of imports into the country,” he said.
“Maybe what we can do is to further increase the tariff if the volume goes beyond the [minimum access volume].
Hog raisers say the country’s meat imports should first be inspected by the Bureau of Animal Industry instead of Customs examiners to determine if those are offal, jowls or skin and not prime cuts, which are taxed higher. As a result, the Agriculture Department has promised to consult with Customs Commissioner Angelito Alvarez.
“I personally requested importers and hog raisers to sit down with us to determine when to import and the volume needed,” Alcala said.
“The imports may come in only once local production is low.”
Around 100 hog producers in Central Visayas and the rest of the country met recently in Cebu to discuss their problems such as the high cost of feed and the influx of imported meat. Senator Francis Pangilinan was there, and he urged them to identify their problems and then suggest how they might solve them.
“They should come up with ‘out-of-the-box’ approaches to solve the lingering industry problems,” he said.
Alcala said his department would consider a program to provide small hog raisers with subsidized vaccines and other veterinary, technical and logistical support.
He tasked Assistant Agriculture Secretary Davinio Catbagan to coordinate with big hog raisers to make representations with the Senate and the Congress, so that a proposed legislation might be drafted to stop the smuggling of pork and chicken into the country.
The Abra hog breeders and raisers have sought the help of the provincial government to ensure the sustainability of the hog industry in the province.