Incoming Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol on Monday vowed to go after unscrupulous traders who are milking US taxpayers to the detriment of Filipino farmers through irregular purchase of goats supposedly to help boost dairy production in the Philippines.
Piñol said he would order an immediate inventory of the goats imported from the United Stated under Public Law (PL) 480, a Washington-funded program aimed at helping the local dairy industry.
The US government, according to him, has granted hundreds of millions of pesos to the Philippines “in a sincere effort to improve the dairy industry which as of now produces only 1 percent of the total milk requirements of the country.”
But instead of buying pedigreed goats, which would improve the genetics of Philippine goats, Pinol said old goats discarded by many dairy farmers in the United States were included in shipments.
“Corruption again got in the way of this wonderful program, which could have made money for the small farmers. This culture of corruption has got to stop,” he warned.
“I saw a pitiful sight of a young student trying to squeeze the udder of an old dairy goat who hardly gave a liter of milk. The old dairy goat was one of the thousands brought into the country from the United States,” Piñol cited his recent visit to the Small Ruminants Center at the Central Luzon State University in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.
The incoming DA chief said goat merchants have been doing this for many years now and have been raking in money to the disadvantage of both the American taxpayers who are spending for the program and the Filipino farmers who are supposed to benefit from it.
“These goat merchants have a problem with me. A few days from now, I will be taking over the Department of Agriculture, the agency which is handling the implementation of PL 480 through one of its bureaus, the Animal Industry,” he added.
“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,” Pinol said.
Many of the goats brought to the country, according to him, did not come from reputable goat breeders in the US, and were just rejects from small dairy farms.
“An ideal milk production for a ruminant is 3-6.5 liters per day. Anything lower would be a waste of time and resources, and should be discarded,” he said.
Pinol added that he will make sure that the next batch of ruminant shipments worth P100 million will be rid of the old and discarded stocks.
“As for those [that]have already been shipped into the country, I will order an immediate inventory of the goats and check whether these are really producing milk or not. If they are not, then the merchants and those responsible for the purchase of these goats will be held accountable,” he said.