Gov't readies cash aid for rice farmers hit by low prices

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2019 12:43 PM

MANILA - The government will release a total of P3 billion to some 600,000 rice farmers affected by low prices of the staple grain.

The aid, at P5,000 per farmer, will be released before Christmas, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said. Funds will be sourced from tax collection from imported rice, he said.

Rice prices have fallen after the government replaced import quotas with tariffs to bring down the price of the staple and tame inflation from record highs in late 2018.

Some farmer groups claimed that prices of rough rice or palay dropped to as low as P7 per kilo following the influx of imported rice.

"Instead of implementing safeguard duties on imported rice, Cabinet decided to give out one-time P5,000 cash assistance to rice farmers affected by low farm gate prices due to rice tariffication law... This will be sourced from tariff collections," Dar told reporters.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also filed a resolution urging the government to use tariff collections from rice imports as cash assistance to farmers.

The Bureau of Customs said some P9.19 billion was collected as tariff from rice importation from March to August 2019, according to Pangilinan's resolution.