October 31, 2003
Philippines To Block Entry of Carabeef From India
The National Federation of Hog Farmers Inc. (NFHFI) in the Philippines, the country's largest hog farmers' association, is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 1004 into a law that will block the entry of carabeef from foot-and-mouth (FMD)-risk India and other FMD-risk countries. The key, according to the organization, is the passage of the bill sponsored by Sen. Manuel Villar who was then the chairman of the Senate committee on agriculture.
The Office des Epizooties (OIE), the world's primary organization on animal health, has declared India one of the countries plagued with the deadly livestock disease. FMD virus sleeps, so to speak, in frozen meat but the moment it is thawed, the virus becomes active again and can infect cloven-hoofed animals, including pigs.
The bill seeks to stop the importation of meats and animals infested with dreaded annihilative FMD. NFHFI president Albert R.T. Lim Jr.said: "Hog industry data tell us that hog raisers spend no less than P1.2 billion annually for vaccines that protect the enterprise from FMD. Just imagine that huge amount that can be saved. With that savings, we can help lower farm gate prices of pork which the wet market vendors can then conveniently pass on to consumers."
NFHFI chairman Nemesio Co added: "We can do away with the high costs of vaccinations if the Senate would pass the bill into law. SB 1004 prohibits importation of potential FMD carrier from foreign sources. If other countries can refuse the entry of FMD-contaminated meats and livestock, why can't we?"
"When the country opened its door to FMD-infested meat products in 1993, domestic swine farms suffered from a series of FMD outbreaks starting in 1995 that cost them some P2 billion in losses."
At least 24 million kilos of carabeef from India are imported into Philippines annually.
Sen. Ramon Magsaysay Jr now under deliberation in the Senate committee on agriculture chairs the bill. Last June, the House of Representatives passed a similar bill (House Bill 767) with 133 affirmative votes and no abstentions.
"We are making this appeal to the agriculture chairman of the Senate. We hope that Sen. Magsaysay will finally expedite the passage of the bill, not only for the good of our industry but also for the benefit of a greater number of Filipino consumers who depend on pork for their daily source of protein. If ever, this will be one of the best Christmas gifts our honorable legislators can give us in the hog industry and the public in the form of lower production costs resulting in lower pork prices," Lim added.