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DA pays P1.3B for hogs infected with ASF: exec

The Department of Agriculture said it has released P1.3 billion in indemnity fund for African swine fever-affected hog raisers in various regions of the country.

DA Undersecretary William Medrano, in a virtual press briefer, said they have rolled out the funds to raisers whose hogs were culled to stop the spread of ASF.

As of Jan. 22, the DA has released some P700,495,000 to assist affected hog raisers in regions 1 or Ilocos, 2 Cagayan Valley, 3 Central Luzon, 4-A Calabarzon, 5 Bicol, 11 Davao, 12 Soccksargen, and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Another P647,839,541 was released for regions 1, 3, 4-A, and 11, while the National Capital Region received P37,035.000.

Aside from the indemnification fund, the DA continues to open up budgetary options for the hog raisers to recover their livestock businesses.

“We are urging the affected farmers, backyard and big commercial farms to avail of our credit facilities. The Agricultural Credit Policy Council allocated P500 million for loan and LandBank has committed P15 billion,” Medrano said.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Customs said yesterday it is working closely with other agencies to ensure the safety of the public against contaminated goods to prevent the further spread of ASF in the country.

In a statement, the bureau said some steps are put in place to ensure that only regulated and safe import commodities enter the country through close coordination with the DA and the Department of Health, the primary agencies that regulate imported food products in the country.

Pursuant to Republic Act 10611, or the Food Safety Act of 2013, imported foods shall undergo cargo inspection and clearance procedures by the DA and the DOH at the first port of entry to determine compliance with national regulations, which shall always take place before assessment for tariff and other charges by the BOC.

Last year, the DA proposed the establishment of the first-border inspection facilities in the country’s major ports. Once the project is implemented, it will enable DA to conduct the first border inspection on all animals, plants, fisheries, and related agricultural products arriving from other countries.

At present, the BOC regularly provides the DA and the DOH documents such as the Inward Foreign Manifest of Arriving Vessels to identify shipments requiring food safety inspection.

Customs personnel along with the quarantine officers of the Bureau of Animal Industry, Bureau of Plant Industry, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources conduct boarding formalities as part of clearance procedures. The BAI seals meat products contained in reefer containers before these are released from the BOC.

Under Customs Memorandum Order No 04-2020, all reefer/refrigerated containers containing agricultural products are subject to the BOC’s Electronic Tracking of Containerized Cargo system.

After completion of customs cargo clearance, reefer vans are sealed with the Electronic Customs Seal, a GPS-equipped device, and transported to DA-accredited cold storage facilities where DA officers would conduct 100-percent examination of the shipment.

Meat and poultry products are inspected by National Meat Inspection Services, while BFAR and BPI are in charge of seafood and plant products, respectively.*PNA

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March 2021

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