Agri dep’t backs farm road spending in third stimulus bill

farm to market road Iloilo

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture said Monday that it supports proposed spending on Farm-to-Market Roads (FMR), which are a component of the bill that could become the third economic stimulus package.

At a House hearing, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said it supports funding to boost its own FMR programs in the north of Luzon under the proposed Bayanihan to Arise as One Act, the P420-billion stimulus package designed to revive and assist employees and businesses severely affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. The third Bayanihan stimulus bill is also known as Bayanihan III.

The government’s FMR development program helps farmers transport their goods more directly and at lower cost.

“I will agree with the idea… na dun sa Bayanihan III maglagay tayo na magba-budget ng FMR (in the Bayanihan III we will allocate funds for FMR),” he said.

The proposal was put forward by Nueva Vizcaya Representative Luisa Lloren Cuaresma, who also aired concerns about her home region’s agricultural logistics.

Agricultural officials and regional directors from Region I (Ilocos), Region II (Cagayan Valley), and Cordillera Administrative Region provided updates on the state of agriculture in those parts of the country, at the hearing of the House Special Committee on the North Luzon Growth Quadrangle.

Mr. Dar said: “North Luzon holds a critical role in the country’s continuing quest for food sufficiency and security, as well as in efforts to boost agricultural exports.”

The Bayanihan III legislation currently allocates for agriculture only a P70-billion budget for capacity-building among agricultural producers. — Gillian M. Cortez

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