House to probe importation of carabeef from India

LAWMAKERS Friday sought a congressional probe on the plan of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to increase the importation of carabeef from other countries, particularly India.

Reps. Angelo Palmones (Party-list, AGHAM) and Agapito  Guanlao (Party-list, Butil) filed House Resolution 965 recommending to the House Committees on Agriculture and Food Security to look into the plan of the DA to import more carabeef despite the increasing production volume of local livestock and poultry to supply the needs for meat of Filipino consumers.

Citing the report of the Bureau of Agriculture Statistics, Palmones said in 2008 the local cattle and carabao industry accounted for 11 percent of the total livestock production valued at P25.624 million.

“But despite this report, the Department of Agriculture  still proposed to increase the volume of carabeef it would import from India,” Palmones said.

Palmones said the importation is not supportive of the program of the Philippine Carabao Center promoting the carabao development program in the country.

“Importation is considered a temporary measure to address meat shortage, but this importation will have a negative effect on the country’s livestock production, if unabated,” Palmones said.

Palmones said the meat importation will have negative impact on the livelihood of millions of backyard live stock producers and run counter to the goal of reducing poverty in the rural areas.

Earlier, the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) said the proposal to ban the importation of carabeef from India will raise domestic prices of beef-carabeef processed meat products and will impact heavily on the herd build-up of the local carabao industry.

“If the ban is imposed, meat processors will have no recourse but to use beef which is more expensive, while the cost of alternative sources of raw materials for these processed meat products will have to be passed on to consumers,” PCC executive director Libertado  Cruz said.

Local livestock producers, especially hog producers are lobbying for the ban on carabeef importation, saying the influx of cheap carabeef and pork meat imports has been causing local pork prices to plunge to their lowest levels in years.

The government permitted members of the Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI) which include the likes of Swift Foods Inc. and Purefoods-Hormel to import carabeef to be used exclusively or solely for processing. This enabled meat processors to sell their products at competitive prices, and in some cases, at prices lower than tuna canned products.

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