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Hog Farmers Ask DA to Look into Meat Imports

by 5m Editor
23 September 2008, at 12:01pm

THE PHILIPPINES - The government should look into possible technical smuggling of meat products from Canada which may be causing the serious depression of hog farm gate price now hovering around P70 to P80 per kilo at farm-gate.

Hog farmers are asking the Department of Agriculture (DA) to look into invoices of meat importation from Canada which may involve declaration of meat prices at higher price than the price this is bought in Canada.

"Canada has oversupply in meat. If price in Canada is higher, there may be technical smuggling. If a country dumps a product to another country at a lower price than its domestic price, it’s the government’s function to check dumping," said an industry official.

The Manila Bulletin says that if any technical smuggling may be happening, there should be a government-to-government talk on this since a dumping case cannot just be filed against one country without government’s full cooperation.

Unfortunately, industry authorities are becoming pessimistic even with finding a technical smuggling case since "the country has never had a successful claim against dumping."

The National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI) has long been pressing the DA to also look into the monitoring of meat price in the wet market and supermarkets which has been continuing to spiral despite a slowdown in consumption. This has been dampening pork price.

"Average farm gate prices of commercial and hog raisers are P82 to P84 (per kilo) with some already selling below P80. Backyard price is worse at P70 to P75.And yet average selling price of liempo in the wet market is still at P170 with supermarkets selling even at above P200 per kilo," said Renato R. Eleria in an interview.

Eleria stressed that hog farmers, composed mostly of backyard farmers representing around 70 percent of total hog producers, are sometimes being blamed for the high price of pork in the markets. That is even if they have become victims of these circumstances.

"It’s clear we are not responsible for the higher prices. Farmers specially the backyard farmers who make up 75 percent of the sector are suffering from low prices that are almost now below cost," he said.

Another concern for hog farmers are the possible overstocking of inventories in storage facilities as traders may not be unloading to the market the imported goods. This may happen as they are awaiting for a good opportunity to sell this higher.

Meat processors and traders have imported 25,000 metric tons (MT) of choice cut pork from January to August 2008 mostly from Canada. This is around five times higher than the 5,000 MT importation normally over the same period in the previous years.

"The plight of hog farmers appears difficult even up to December because bulk of these importations are in cold storage to be unloaded still. The irony is that local price of pork remains high. We want the public to know that hog raisers have nothing to do with the situation."

The NFHFI is also pressing for government’s continued implementation of the "Pork in a Box" program which basically aims to cut down middlemen’s cost in order to slash price of pork to benefit consumers. This program aim to increase cold storage and transport facilities and encourage farmers to slaughter hog at a bigger weight so as to be able to sell the animal meat at a bigger volume.

5m Editor