CONGRESS TO UPDATE 59-YEAR-OLD
LIVESTOCKRAISERS LAW TO RAISE INCOMES
Livestock raisers dependent on feeds will see their incomes after updating the 59-year-old law that governs the feeds and livestock industries, a partylist representative said this week.
AAMBIS-Owa Party list Representative Sharon Garin filed House Bill 5162 or the Animal Feeds Act which seeks to organize, update, and strengthen the livestock feeds industry in the Philippines.
“When enacted, this measure will ensure that the feeds used by our farmers to nourish their livestocks are safe and of high quality. This will result to higher income of farmers and good health of the consuming public,” Rep. Garin said.
According to Dr. Maria Abenes, the Officer-in-Charge of the Animal Feeds and Veterinary and Biological Division of the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), the original law, Republic Act 1556, enacted in 1956, can no longer meet the demands of the industries’ continued growth and competition caused by liberalized trading policies.
“HB 5162 seeks to update the definitions, policies, and penalties found in the original law. For example, the scope of the regulation of the animal feeds industry would no longer be limited to the importation of feeds but would also include the feeds the country is exporting to ensure quality control. The regulation will include all feeds intended for both terrestrial and aquatic animals,” Dr. Abenes clarified.
The provisions of HB 5162, Garin said, will be synchronized with the labeling requirements of Republic Act 10611 or the Food Safety Act authored by Garin. Under the proposed law, every package containing feed or feeding stuff must be labeled with type, brand, and kind of feed and feeding ingredient among other information for the benefit of end users.
The proposed measure seeks to create an Animal Feed Control Advisory Committee under the Department of Agriculture (DA). This will develop and promote better licensing and registration processes to ensure the quality of all feeds for both commercial or non-commercial uses. The committee will also conduct studies and formal investigation on policy and technical matters arising from the implementation of the act.
Aside from updated administrative fees and charges, the provisions for stricter regulations come with higher fees for penalties, which will ultimately benefit the industry to be imposed under the proposed law such as tampering with packaged feeds for fraudulent purposes; removing, altering, or effacing prescribed tags or labels on packaged feeds ingredients will be dealt with imprisonment of six (6) months to one (1) year and a mandatory fine of half a million pesos.
Companies that will distribute or sell expired feeds and feed ingredients shall face suspension of license to operate and will pay a fine of one million pesos under the proposed measure.
If passed into law, a revolving fund called the Philippine Livestock Promotion Fund shall also be established. This will be the repository of all the charges and fees and other income during the implementation of the proposed law to be used for the maintenance and improvement of the services of the BAI.
HB 5162 is pending before the House Committee on Agriculture and Food. Hearings on the bill will be convened when Congress resumes session in May. /MP