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To improve dairy industry in the country, incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol said he will immediately order an immediate inventory of goats to check whether these are producing milk.
“I will order an immediate inventory of the goats and check whether these are really producing milk or not,” he said in a statement.
“If they are not, then the merchants and those responsible for the purchase of these goats will be held accountable,” he added.
According to Piñol, the old dairy goats were part of the thousands brought into the country from the United States under a US government program called PL480 aimed at helping the dairy industry in the Philippines.
US PL 480 refers to Public Law 480 of the United States, which is also known as the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act.
This was enacted in 1954 in line with the US Policy of using its agricultural productivity to enhance the food security of developing countries and the determination of the importing country’s capacity (Philippines) of improving its food security.
PL 480 consists of three food aid titles – the government-to-government sale on credit of US commodities under long-term, concessional arrangement. This was amended later to include commodity sale to private entities. Payment of the commodities is expected over 30 years with a grace period of seven years. Beneficiaries of the program are developing countries that find it difficult to provide for the food needs of its citizens through commercial sources because of foreign exchange problems.
Under the program, Piñol said the US government granted hundreds of millions of pesos in a sincere effort to improve the dairy industry which as of now produces only one percent of the total milk requirements of the country.
He, however, said that corruption has again got in the way with the implementation of the program which could have made money for the small farmers.
Instead of buying pedigreed goats which can improve the genetics of the local goats in the country, old goats discarded by many dairy farmers in the US were included on the shipment.
“The goat merchants have been doing this for many years now and have been raking in money to the disadvantage of both the US taxpayers who are spending for the program and the Filipino farmers who are supposed to benefit from it,” he said.
“These goat merchants, however, have a problem with me. A few days from now, I will be taking over the Department of Agriculture (DA), the agency which is handling the implementation of PL 480 through one of its bureaus, the Animal Industry (BAI). Their problem is that I am a goat raiser and I know what a good dairy goat is. In fact, I could identify the breed of a dairy goat by just looking at its features. Not only that, I know most of the outstanding dairy got breeders in the US and I know that many of the goats brought to the country did not come from them or are discards from small dairy farms,” he noted.
Piñol said “this culture of corruption has got to stop.” (PNA)