Press Releases

Salceda calls for tariff revenues from agri imports to “flow back” to domestic agriculture sector; stronger inspection, IATF-like body against biosafety threats to domestic agri pushed

April 27th, 2023

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) called for the passage of a “universal flow back mechanism” for tariff revenues from agricultural imports to be channeled towards programs for their counterpart domestic agricultural sector, arguing that “developing the domestic sector is always better than simply protecting them without support.”

Salceda made the statements in his remarks to the General Membership Meeting of the United Broiler Raisers Association (UBRA), one of the largest poultry-sector organizations in the country. UBRA held its meeting on April 26, and Salceda was the guest speaker.

“The tariffs from imports of agricultural products should go towards developing their domestic counterparts. So, revenues from imported pork should go to the domestic swine industry. Revenues from imported dressed chicken should go towards the broiler sector. That way, we can keep consumer prices low without throwing farmers under the bus,” Salceda said.

Salceda cited the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund which he says has helped farmers achieve record high yields while keeping rice prices under control “in an otherwise high food inflation situation.”

Salceda’s proposal is embodied in his House Bill No. 2471, or the Universal Tariff Flowback Act, which he filed on July 2022. It is currently pending in the Committee on Agriculture and Food.

The approach, Salceda adds, is also present in the proposed Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy Development Act, which will allocate P6.3 billion in automatic appropriations towards the livestock and poultry sector, and another P2.8 billion for the corn sector, from tariff revenues on imported corn and livestock products.

The proposal is under House Bill No. 440, which Salceda also principally authored, and whose technical working group he chairs. The proposal is identified by the economic team of President Marcos as a top priority.

“Stronger biosafety measures needed”

Salceda also says that the Department of Agriculture needs to establish stronger mechanisms to detect and contain new and more dangerous strains of African Swine Fever and Avian Influenza from coming into the country by setting up stronger first border systems.

Salceda was responding to concerns raised by UBRA members that biosafety inspection is conducted not on the port of entry but in cold storages.

“By then, the threat is in. So, I strongly urge the Bureau of Animal Industry to follow international standards and conduct first border inspections at the port of entry, not when the imports are already inside the country’s storage facilities.”

“We also need stronger mechanisms to detect and contain Avian Flu. This one’s deadly and potentially zoonotic. When it passes on to humans, mortality is 56%. And it has so far killed off wild birds at a rate that the world has never seen in any past strain. So, this one could have catastrophic impacts on Philippine agriculture if we don’t get it right. It could also be a public health crisis in the waiting.”

“So, I strongly urge that just as we have an IATF on emerging infectious diseases for humans, PBBM issue an executive order monitoring emerging agricultural biosafety threats. I think that’s the first step. And, anyway, we will try to include similar provisions in the Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy Act.”

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