Group flags untested pork imports risk

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THE “unlimited entry” of “untested imported pork” at the port of first entry will continue to pose difficulties to the local hog sector, according to the Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (Sinag).

The farmers’ group also accused the Department of Agriculture (DA) of having “a continuing bias” for pork imports.

“[They removed] insurance and compensation for local hog raisers while [DA] pushed for the tariff reduction of imports that remain untested for African swine fever [ASF],” Jayson Cainglet, Sinag executive director, said in a statement.

The group said the government should impose first-border protection measures to protect the domestic hog population from ASF, which has devastated a number of farms in the Philippines.

“The ASF is a global phenomenon, and yet the impact and devastation is longer and more destructive in our country. This is so because we continue to be the only country without first-border inspection facilities,” it said.

“It will not matter if we impose the strictest movement protocols and biosecurity measures for local hog raisers and in the transport of live hogs, but continue to have unlimited entry of untested imported pork at the port of first entry,” the group added.

It noted that local producers are bearing the cost of increased biosecurity at the farm level, continued regular testing of pigs for ASF and related diseases, stricted ordinances on pig movement yet there is no inspection of imported pork.

First case in Oriental Mindoro

The group issued the statement after the local government of Oriental Mindoro said Monday it detected the first ASF cases in the province.

A Philippine News Agency report indicated that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) on Monday night placed the towns of Roxas and Mansalay under a state of calamity, on the request of Governor Humerlito Dolor, following confirmation of an ASF outbreak.

“The SP passed a resolution in a regular session this afternoon, October 9, declaring a state of calamity in Roxas and Mansalay, Provincial Board Member Roland Ruga said in an email.

In a social media post, Dolor said he also signed Executive Order 66 banning pork or pork products from leaving the two towns to prevent the spread of ASF to other parts of the province.

In his letter to the SP on October 9, Dolor cited Republic Act 10121, also known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, which empowers the SP to declare a province under state of calamity when two or more of its towns are affected by a natural or man-made disaster, upon the recommendation of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Enough supply

Despite the ASF outbreak in Oriental Mindoro, Sinag said there is no cause for alarm as local hog raisers “expect” sporadic cases of the fatal hog disease.

“We have enough pork supply as evidenced by the huge volume of pork stocks in cold storages across the country, the large numbers of pork imports, and in the decline in the farmgate prices of live hogs,” the group said.

Data from the National Meat Inspection Service showed that the inventory of frozen pork in accredited cold storage facilities reached 87,338.57 metric tons (MT) as of September 18, or 2 percent higher than the previous year’s inventory of 85,606.6 MT.

The figure, however, is lower than the September 11 inventory of 105,054.41 MT.