A BILL has been filed in the House of Representatives mandating the government to purchase produce from local farmers for calamity relief operations and school feeding programs.
House Bill 3382 seeks to ensure that national agencies and local governments prioritize available local supply when sourcing food requirements for social services.
“It is only fitting to put our farmers first when attending to our countrymen’s urgent need for subsistence as our farmers are considered as the nation’s first responders in fulfilling our food requirements,” Davao City Rep. Paolo Z. Duterte and Benguet Rep. Eric G. Yap said in the bill’s explanatory note, adding that the bill does not aim to derail fair competition in terms of foreign trade and importation.
The solons said that prioritizing the purchase of local produce “shall mean the exhaustion of all available and applicable local produce at the most reasonable and practicable cost before resorting to imported or foreign produce.”
Messrs. Duterte and Yap also filed HB 3383, or the National Food Authority (NFA) Rice Drying Facilities Act.
Under the measure, the NFA will establish modern rice drying facilities nationwide, which will be free to use for farmers who sell directly to the agency.
The proposed law provides that NFA shall “procure, build, install, operate, manage, and/or maintain rice drying facilities sufficient in quantity and geographically accessible to local farmers to enable it to buy rice directly from local farmers.”
They said these twin measures will support the National Government’s goal of revitalizing the agricultural sector. — Matthew Carl L. Montecillo