THE proposed bill creating the National Livestock and Veterinary Services Authority (NLVSA) is seen to pave the way for the professionalization of the livestock sector that will further boost the local animal industry.

Negros Occidental Provincial Veterinarian Renante Decena said on Monday, February 13, that the proposal to restructure the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to NLVSA “is a right move” of the government.

Decena pointed out that under the current set-up, the positions in BAI are for agriculturists except for those under the veterinary quarantine, which was rationalized last year.

“In the global perspective, we are being left behind due to this discrepancy,” he said, adding that it has been almost 20 years that they lobbied for the professionalization of the livestock sector.

House Bill No. 3356, or the Animal Industry and Veterinary Services Act is pending with the House committee on agriculture and food.

The animal industry, with its livestock and poultry sectors, contributes a great deal to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), its author deputy speaker Sharon Garin, who is the representative of AAMBIS-OWA party-list, said.

Garin cited reports from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showing that the production in the livestock subsector expanded by 3.41 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016 while the poultry subsector produced one percent more.

The gross value of production for both industries amounted to a total of P125.7 billion last year, it added.

According to the BAI, with the outbreaks of communicable diseases coming from other countries, the agriculture industry comprising the animal sector is facing the threat of economic losses, Garin said.

“To minimize the effects of these threats and prevent the downfall of the animal industry, the BAI should be strengthened to cover the holistic need of the industry,” she added.

For his part, Decena said the country’s positive GDP output in agriculture, particularly in livestock and poultry, has been consistent for the past 10 years due to veterinary service providers like veterinarians.

In Negros Occidental, Decena said the situation is already sustainable because of the government’s support and maturity of stakeholders in terms of technology application, and capability of experienced raisers who were organized and motivated.

With the proposed legislation, the Provincial Government is looking at a more bullish local animal industry, he added.

Moreover, the BAI, being under the Department of Agriculture, is primarily responsible in investigating, reporting, and preventing causes and dangers of communicable diseases among animals.

It is also tasked to conduct research and development of animal health, welfare and food production, and regulating imported and foreign animals.

Under the proposed legislation, local government units will also be tasked to extend manpower, material, and financial resources to NLVSA in their respective jurisdictions.

The national government, meanwhile, will provide additional allowances and benefits to veterinary officers, animal health technicians, and veterinarians employed by the restructured agency in accordance to the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers, Garin said.

If enacted to law, prohibited acts like illegal manufacture and use of feeds and veterinary drugs, refusal to vaccinate animals, failure to report notifiable diseases, and obstruction of agency’s duties, among others shall be penalized.

“It is the task of the government to secure the development of the animal industry in the attainment of greater safeguards and food security for the country’s animal and human populations,” she added.