Senate panel OKs resolution giving excess rice tariff revenues to small farmers

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 16 2020 04:15 PM

Farmers along the Nueva Ecija-Aurora road take advantage of the good weather and start land preparations for the next rice planting cycle on November 23, 2018. ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA— The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Food and Agrarian Reform on Friday approved a resolution which authorizes the government to use excess rice tariff revenues to fund assistance programs for small farmers.

Under Senate Joint Resolution No. 12, annual rice tariff revenues above P10 billion will be "included" in the next year's budget for the following programs:

  • Rice farmer financial assistance for those farming up to 2 hectares
  • Titling of agricultural rice lands
  • Expanded crop insurance program
  • Crop diversification program

The fund will "help local rice farmers during the transitioning stage from the quantitavtive regime to liberalization and also in consideration of the pandemic," Senate Committee on Agriculture chair Sen. Cynthia Villar said in her resolution.

As of July 17, 2020, the Bureau of Customs has "collected P10.72 billion in revenues" from the importation of rice, the resolution read.

The excess fund that will be collected until December 30, 2020, will be distributed among 600,000 farmers, the senator said.

Last year, the Philippines - an agricultural country - became the world's top importer of rice after the country allowed unlimited importation of the staple grain to address inflation.