MANILA - The Senate on Monday unanimously approved on final reading the Cash Assistance for Filipino Farmers Act that would provide financial aid to small rice farmers until 2024.
Under the measure, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is "mandated to directly remit" to the Department of Agriculture (DA) annual rice tariff revenues beyond P10 billion so that the excess fund may be distributed to "farmers owning one hectare or less of rice land until 2024."
"The State recognizes the urgency of intervening for our farmers in light of the current state of declining palay prices and the crippling effects of the COVID pandemic," the bill read.
"Towards this end, the State shall provide monetary assistance to the hardest hit segments of our small farmers in the form of actual giving of cash to farmers," it said.
The bill also mandates the BOC and the DA to submit an annual report to Congress on the "the remittance of funds" for farmers.
Small rice armers are expected to receive the annual cash aid while the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) is still in effect.
The passage of the bill on third reading comes as farmers continue to call for the repeal of the rice tariffication law, which lifted the limit on imported rice to stabilize prices of the staple grain.
The influx of rice from other countries has forced farmers to sell their produce at a lower price, with some 2.1 million farmers reportedly losing a total of P140 billion in income last year.