Poultry raisers, feed millers ask gov’t to ban all poultry imports

Published September 1, 2020, 10:00 PM

by Madelaine B. Miraflor

It’s now the local raisers and feed millers versus the local meat processors, as the former stood by the Philippine government for its decision to suspend the importation of all Brazilian poultry meat following the latter’s claim that prices of canned meat products will go up because of such import ban.

The worst part of this for meat processing companies is that the local raisers and feed millers also want a total ban of poultry meat imports, not just for the ones coming from Brazil.

For its part, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said the temporary ban on chicken imports from Brazil stays until the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) could finally provide the Philippine government the “needed documents” that would prove that the poultry products from the Latin American country, which is one of the most badly hit countries by COVID-19 pandemic, is safe from the dreaded virus.

On Tuesday, United Broilers Raisers Association (UBRA), Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc. (PCAFI), Pork Producers Federation of the Philippines Inc. (ProPork), and Philippine Association of Feed Millers Inc. (PAFMI) released a joint statement urging the Philippine government to have “a more aggressive stand” and “move for the temporary banning of all imported chicken until the world is able to cross this pandemic”.

“In light of the latest development about imported chicken in Brazil being infected with coronavirus and the consequential ban imposed by the DA, it is imperative that we prioritize the health needs of the population where infections continue to increase and the fear of getting infected haunt them every day,” the groups said.

They then assured that the local livestock and chicken industry can support the supply needed by the meat processors “in order for them to supply the demands of the population”.

“All food stakeholders should unite and support fellow local companies by buying their local produce and thus feeding our countrymen an all Filipino product from end to end,” they added.  

The letter was signed by PCAFI President Danilo Fausto, ProPork President Edwin Chen, PAFMI President Stephanie Nicole Garcia, and UBRA President Elias Jose Inciong.

To recall, the DA’s Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) imposed a temporary ban on Brazilian poultry products a few weeks ago after China reported that it found traces of the COVID-19 in chicken products from said South American country.

For issuing the ban, BAI cited the rising number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in Brazil that included workers at meat processing facilities.

Still, Ricardo Santin, Brazilian Association of Animal Protein (ABPA) Chief Executive Officer, said such a decision has “no basis” and is not “science-based”.

ABPA is the political and institutional representative of poultry and pork production in Brazil, one of the largest food producing countries in the world.

The Philippines is currently one of the biggest markets for Brazilian pork and poultry products.
In a recent letter to Brazil’s MAPA chief veterinary officer Geraldo Marcos de Moraes, BAI director Ronnie Domingo said that the Philippines is committed to resolving the issue.

“The Philippines greatly values its long-standing harmonious relations with Brazil. We look forward to your prompt response,” Domingo said in his letter to Moraes.

To be specific, Brazil’s MAPA is requested to submit documentary requirements such as the list of foreign meat establishments (FMEs) exporting to the Philippines, which reported COVID-19 cases, since March 2020; copies of MAPA-issued national guidelines on the control and prevention of COVID-19 cases in meat establishments (including protocol for resumption of operations); MAPA procedures or protocols in monitoring COVID-19 cases in meat facilities; certified copies of food safety manuals (particularly on their protocol for COVID-19) of BRF (JBS), Seara and Aurora FMEs, that are reported banned by  China; current rate of COVID testing on meat establishment workers; and revised guidelines for the production, packaging and storage of poultry mechanically deboned meat (MDM).

To date, Brazil has the world’s second-worst COVID-19 outbreak, reporting more than 3.2 million cases and more than 105,000 deaths, since the start of the pandemic.

The other day, Philippine Association of Meat Processors Inc. (PAMPI), the largest group of meat processing companies in the country, warned that the prices of canned meat products might go up by up to 14 percent as their group reels from the impact of two import bans placed by the government against Brazilian and Australian poultry meat.

PAMPI said the continuous government ban on poultry products, including MDM, from Brazil will lead to a shortage of raw materials and eventually higher prices of canned food products in the Philippines.
Brazil is currently the second largest supplier of MDM in the Philippines, accounting for 20 percent to 25 percent of the imported raw materials needed by meat processors to produce their products.

Despite abundance in poultry production, the Philippines don’t produce this into MDM amid lack of facilities.