DA to penalize abusive food traders, retailers



QUEZON CITY--Following the increase in the prices of farm and fishery products like chicken, fish and vegetables, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said the Department of Agriculture (DA) will strongly implement Republic Act 7581 or the Price Act of 1992 that allows the DA to penalize abusive businesses that control the supply of agricultural commodities to their advantage.

Last Jan. 20, 2020, the DA chief issued Department Order No. 3, where he invoked the agency’s powers as authorized under the Price Law.

The law was created primarily to prevent and take action against individuals and entities that manipulate prices of primary and basic commodities.

Violators of illegal price manipulation shall suffer imprisonment for a period of at least five years up to 15 years, and shall be imposed a fine of not less than P5,000 nor more than P2,000,000.

Under the Price Act, the DA is the main implementing agency in ensuring stability of prices with reference to agricultural crops, fish and other marine products, fresh meat, fresh poultry and dairy products, and fertilizers, among other farm inputs.

Under the newly-issued order, Secretary Dar is tasking all concerned officials and staff to regularly monitor the food supply and price situation, particularly of poultry, fish and vegetables, as great discrepancies have been observed between farmgate and market retail prices, well-surpassing acceptable levels.

For instance, the average farmgate price of chicken is at P77 per kilo, and sells in the market price at P157 per kilo, registering a difference of P80, with more than 100 percent mark-up.

For imported galunggong (round scad), while its wholesale price ranges from P50 to P60 per kilo, it is retailed for up to P200 per kilo and the local ones are sold for up to P280 per kilo, making it more expensive than pork, ranging from P180 to P220 per kilo.

“These discrepancies demonstrate a gross and direct contravention of the prohibitions set forth by the Price Act,” Secretary Dar said.
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