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Hog population expected to decline if pork imports expanded

HOG NUMBERS, decimated by African Swine Fever (ASF), could decline further next year if the government expands the quota for pork imports, discouraging growers from rebuilding their herds, the pork industry said.

Nicanor M. Briones, vice-president for Luzon of the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines, said in a radio interview Wednesday that many hog raisers will choose to cease operating if they are forced to compete with more pork imports, defeating the purpose of various ongoing efforts to rebuild hog numbers and risking another supply crisis.

“Hog supply for next year will be a problem since instead of increasing the number of hog raisers returning to the industry, more will be discouraged from continuing,” Mr. Briones said.

According to Mr. Briones, the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) proposal to lower tariffs for pork imports will not address demand for fresh, never-frozen meat.

Imports “cannot fill the supply gap because Filipino consumers want fresh meat. They will look for domestic supply since imported pork spends two months in a freezer,” Mr. Briones said.

He called imported frozen pork a health risk because “it can easily attract bacteria and be dangerous for consumers,” he added.

Asked to comment, DA Spokesperson Noel O. Reyes said in a mobile phone message that the DA has recommended imports to stabilize supply since the domestic hog production is not sufficient to meet demand.

Mr. Reyes added that the DA and the Land Bank of the Philippines will launch a P15-billion financing program to support the repopulation efforts of commercial hog raisers.

“Once successful, commercial hog raisers in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao that are bio-secured from ASF can continue and even expand their operations,” Mr. Reyes said.

“Hog raising will continue in ASF-free areas across the country,” he added.

The DA proposed to lower tariff rates charged on pork imports within the minimum access volume (MAV) allocation to 5% in the first six months and 10% in the succeeding six months.

It also recommended bringing down the tariffs for out-of-quota pork imports to 15% in the first six months, increasing to 20% in the following six months.

Currently, pork imports inside the MAV quota are charged a 30% tariff, while those beyond MAV pay 40%.

The other DA proposal awaiting approval is to raise the MAV to 404,210 metric tons (MT) from the current 54,000 MT. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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