By Madelaine B. Miraflor
Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) said Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol’s call for collective price increase among poultry raisers is illegal, even offered its “advisory support” to the Department of Agriculture (DA) when it comes to formulating policies that have something to do with competition.
Piñol has met with a group of poultry raisers this week to address the falling prices for chicken. One of the solutions raised was for poultry raisers to all agree to increase the farmgate price by at least P10 per kilo every week until such time they are able to reach the level where they will not be losing money anymore.
PCC Chairman Arsenio M. Balisacan said on Friday that while PCC recognizes the DA’s timely efforts to proactively assist poultry raisers, an agreement among competitors to collectively raise prices is considered anti-competitive and illegal under Section 14(a) of the Philippine Competition Act.
“To address the concerns of poultry raisers and avoid harm to consumers, it is more efficient to allow producers to independently adjust their own prices or output,” Balisacan said.
“Concerned agencies may also consider pro-competitive forms of assistance such as access to agricultural credit or the provision of research and extension services to boost the productivity of poultry raisers,” he added.
For United Broiler Raisers Association President Elias Jose Inciong, the government doesn’t fully understand the situation, saying there are distortive market control elements beyond the farmgate price and that it’s their job to look into that situation.
“If we are able to set our prices in the first place ‘independently’ without pressure from distortive forces, there would be no need for us to seek help from the government,” Inciong said.
In the meantime, PCC has offered its advisory support to the DA in the formulation of policies that “meet the dual objectives of promoting healthy market competition and improving the welfare of producers in the agriculture sector”.
The farmgate price of chicken have recently fallen to about P38 per kilo in some areas.
Piñol then orders a review of chicken imports so they won’t flood the local market.
For 2019, chicken meat imports are seen to rise by 9.67 percent to 340,000 metric tons (MT), a data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed.
This, while poultry production went up by nearly 20 percent last year compared to 2017.