Pork Producers Urge Special Corn Importation Permit

by 5m Editor
19 October 2011, at 8:50am

PHILIPPINES - A group of local pork producers has asked the Department of Agriculture (DA) to issue a special import permit for corn to drive down domestic prices, which soared following a string of typhoons.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. requested a special import permit at zero tariff for six months.

"If the 35 per cent tariff on imported corn is lifted for six months, our organization can purchase cheaper produce and distribute this to our members," said Edwin Chen, president of Pro-pork.

According to The Manila, Mr Chen said lower corn prices would help stabilize livestock feed prices, as well as maintain current pricing of pork and meat products.

He said the group is looking to import at least 50,000 metric tons of corn to drive down prices in the domestic market, which remain artificially high because of reported "damages" brought by typhoons Pedring and Quiel.

Corn is the main staple for hog feeds, and an increase in prices would also drive higher the prices of meat products.

It makes up 50 per cent to 60 per cent of animal feed formulation while soybean, which provides protein, makes up 20 per cent to 25 per cent. Fishmeal, another source of protein, vitamins and minerals, accounts for the balance.

To date, the average price of corn reached P15 per kilo, higher than the P12 per kilo that hog raisers used to pay.

"The high corn price is already taking a toll on the swine industry because of its domino effect on production cost," Mr Chen said.

The executive also said that if the prices of corn will not stabilize soon, this would result in losses for hog farmers who are still reeling form the devastating effects of natural disasters and disease.

"This may even force the closure of several hog farms, especially those among the backyard producers who do not have the capital to shoulder the additional cost," Mr Chen said.

He asked Mr Alcala to reassure hog raisers that the country has enough corn stocks to meet the requirement, and file charges against traders manipulating prices.

"According to reports, 90 per cent of corn crops have already been harvested before the typhoon. So why is it that prices are still going up? What we want is to at least drive down prices with the special importation," Mr Chen said. He said Pro-pork is already in talks with the Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (PAFMI) for the said importation.

Earlier, PAFMI said they were "keeping their options open" for the possible importation of corn feeds early next year because of the reported damage to crops by two recent typhoons.

Norman Ramos, PAFMI president, said they are seeking an official report from the DA on the extent of the damage in the corn sector.

"Our concern will focus on the actual standing crop damaged by the typhoons and how much is submerged by the floods because over a period of time, this corn will deteriorate," Mr Ramos said.

"If the corn quality is questionable, then we will decide whether we will import," the executive said.

The DA earlier said that over 90 per cent of corn crops were harvested before typhoons Pedring and Quiel hit the country, while the remaining 10 per cent can still be recovered using dry facilities provided to those who were affected by floods.

But Mr Ramos, who is also the vice president and general manager of the feeds business of San Miguel Foods Inc., said there was no assurance from the DA that the harvested corn crops were properly dried, which may potentially compromise its quality.

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