POULTRY and livestock owners in Bacolor town were given one week to abide by environmental laws and comply with sanitary regulations or face closure and the possibility of a court case from the Municipal Government.
The move came as Mayor Eduardo "Diman" Datu said Sunday, August 11, that his administration has discovered blatant lapses on the part of poultry and livestock operators in the town.
Datu also ordered that farms comply with the necessary municipal permits or face closure.
The newly-minted mayor has ordered a town-wide inspection of poultry and livestock farms in the town after complaints from several barangay officials and residents about the foul odor emanating from some farms. This is aside from the thousands of flies that invade nearby communities regularly.
"Our people have been suffering from flies which swarm communities at an unprecedented rate. We will compel owners to follow the regulations or else face closure," Datu said.
Poultry, livestock town
Initial reports from the Municipal Government reveal that there are some 26 poultry farms in Bacolor town. Most of these are located in the barangays of Potrero, San Isidro, Concepcion, Dolores, Sta. Barbara, and Balas.
In Barangay Maliwalu alone, there are some six large-scale poultry farms.
Some 97 percent of poultry farms in the town are large-scale broiler farms.
Data from the Municipal Government also reveal that six farms have no business permits, while three other farms have not undergone inspection.
The town also has 10 poultry farms operating mostly in Barangays Balas and Potrero. The said farms are mostly medium size to large operations.
Four of the 10 farms have not undergone inspection while three have been operating with no business permit.
Another farm appears to have no record at all with the Municipal Government.
There are also four quail farms of large to commercial operation in the town. Three of these farms have been operating without permits and another has not undergone inspection.
There is also one commercial duck farm in the town that is yet to undergo inspection as of press time.
In 2018, communities in Barangays Santa Barbara and San Antonio were pestered by swarms of flies. This occurred in December, which coincided with the harvest of broilers for sale in the local market.
Affected residents blamed the newly opened ASI Poultry Farm in Barangay Santa Barbara for the fly infestation, according to a previous report.
Residents said improper management and disposal of chicken manure in the poultry may have caused the fly problem.
The management of AIS Poultry Farm denied the residents' claims and asserted that it had installed complete equipment and facilities to treat chicken manures to prevent fly infestation.
Environment, health hazard
Datu said while the farms have been bringing in considerable income into the town, the financial benefits should not overshadow the health of the people and the safety of the environment.
"It's not just about the business side. Our businessmen here should be reminded that they should not be remiss in their duty to comply with environmental and sanitary standards," Datu said.
He added that there a couple of farms operating in close proximity with one another. Under current standards, poultry farms must be at least 400 to 500 meters away from one another. This is to prevent the spread of infection or viruses in case one farm gets infected.
Municipal officials added that the distance should be observed to prevent any untoward disease incidents.
In 2017, the A H5N6, a virus that is transmittable to humans but far less deadly than H5N1, killed hundreds of birds in six farms in San Luis Pampanga. The spread of the virus had been easy in an area that is mostly devoted to poultry farming.
To prevent a similar scenario, the Municipal Government of Bacolor will no longer accept applications for business permits from new poultry businesses following complaints of fly infestation in residential areas near fowl farms for the meantime.
In a recent inspection with barangay officials and the mayor, several farms were found to still have considerable populations of flies in their farm buildings.
Datu admitted that there should now be a stricter implementation of sanitary laws. He said while it is the job of environmental agencies to check the housekeeping measures of agro-industrial industries, the day-to-day monitoring is the task of local government units.
Datu urged barangay officials to also inspect and immediately report farms that violate sanitation regulations.
He also encouraged farm owners to explore more efficient production while adhering to sustainable and eco-friendly operations.