Prioritizing the majority

Three things may be gleaned from the issue over pork imports.

The first and most critical point is there is a need to stabilize pork prices which are pushing inflation up. Conservatively assuming only a fourth of the estimated 100 million pork consumers in the country use the protein almost daily in one form or another, the volume requirement is already the equivalent of about three to four times the population of new zealand. That is a formidable volume requirement that needs to be fed. Obviously, many of them rail and complain against high pork prices as it is an essential ingredient in everyday dishes.

Second, we must admit that the reason for this is because of the Asian Swine Flu that has reduced our pig population by a fourth. This sad reality makes it difficult for hog growers to repopulate their stocks, since even new pigs can still be infected by the virus that has no cure and vaccine. No matter how hard we try to prevent its entry into the country, it travels even via canned pork products.

Third, fears of imports "killing the local pork industry" are unfounded, as pork will continue to be produced simply because there is a need for it in many other countries that are also battling ASF. We will always need to produce our own food and may never be able to completely replace our local supply.

The real hard lesson here is that government must make tough leadership calls to exercise its political will. It will always prioritize the majority and its clamor for affordable food while applying measures to help affected local industry. Already, the landbanks SWINE lending program is in full swing releasing funds fornpork producers apart from the DA conpensating hog farmers who lost their stocks to ASF over the last year.

Thus, we have little choice but to allow a temporary hike in imports to plug the supply gap and lower prices. Once local supply rebounds tarriffs can be restored. Reading the EO 128 authorizing the temporary increased Minimum Access Volume (MAV) shows this to be the case.