USDA approves DA’s utilization of P1.56-B worth of US PL480 funds

Published July 27, 2020, 12:48 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

The government of the United States (US) has finally approved, after almost one year, the project that will allow the attached agencies of the Department of Agriculture (DA) to use up about P1.56 billion worth of funds under the US Public Law 480 (US PL480) program, which has been idling at the National Treasury for many years.

A statement showed that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) finally agreed on the expansion of the DA’s newly restructured project proposal under the US PL480 Title I program.
As a preparation, the Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries (PCAF), the DA’s legally mandated consultation arm, is now set to prepare a plan for regular monitoring and evaluation of the project, which is called “Intensified Community-Based Dairy Enterprise Development”.  

It will be implemented by the National Dairy Administration (NDA) and Philippine Carabao Center (PCC).

It was in August last year when the DA announced that USDA will fund a P2-billion dairy goat farming project in the Philippines, which will be implemented under the US PL480 program, also known as the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act.

The US PL480 program was enacted in 1934 by the American government so it could put to good use the revenues it gained from its own agriculture sector to help developing countries like the Philippines address their food security.  

Since it was launched, the Philippines has received hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of grant from the US under the program, which included loan agreements meant to fund agricultural projects.

But due to lack of programs, some funds that were injected to US PL 480 a few years ago only got stuck at the National Treasury over the years. That was until Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol found out about the program in 2017 and had sought to tap it.  

As for the aforementioned dairy project, it was originally approved in 2018 as “Dairy Goat Farming: A Livelihood Opportunity for Rural Farm Families” of the NDA. Then it was re-launched last year.

The restructured project will now be jointly implemented by NDA and the PCC for the next four years.

“After a thorough review, USDA Agricultural Counselor Morgan Haas informed Agriculture Secretary William Dar in a letter that they have examined the newly restructured program that would accelerate the development of the Philippine dairy industry and agreed to expand from dairy goats to also include cattle and carabao,” the DA said in a statement.

Of the US PL480 funds, NDA will have a share of P987.01 million and PCC with P512 million.

The remaining P67.05 million will be used by PCAF for its monitoring and evaluation activities consistent with the approved US PL480 Title I Program fund utilization guidelines.

“With the approval of the program, PCAF will check possible ways to conduct monitoring and evaluation without compromising the safety of its employees and its development partners.

Through this, PCAF would be able to update not only to the USDA and DA, but also to our stakeholders,” said PCAF Acting Executive Director Liza Battad.

The DA’s National Livestock Program (NLP) will serve as the “fund manager” of the US PL480 program and will ensure regular updates to the USDA.

To be specific, the project aims to produce 27.70 million liters of milk throughout the project period; increase dairy cattle inventory by 7,323 heads and dairy goat inventory by 9,611 heads through importation and expanded animal breeding programs; and increase dairy carabao inventory by 922 heads through importation and local procurement of purebred/crossbred buffaloes.

The project also targets to increase the average family income of dairy farmers by 20 percent annually through the development of carabao-based enterprises, as well as increase the average income of dairy goat farmers by 18 percent.