BAGUIO CITY – The City Council approved on first reading the local government’s right to farm legislation.
The ordinance, authored by Councilor Leandro B. Yangot, Jr., stated that it will be a policy of the local government to advocate and encourage the practice of agriculture since agricultural production is a major contributor to the city’s robust economy aside from the fact that agricultural lands constitute unique and irreplaceable resources of importance, that the continuation of agriculture activities preserves the landscape and environmental resources, contributes to the increase of tourism and advances the economic self-sufficiency of the people and that the encouragement, development, improvement, and preservation of agriculture will result to the greater advantage to the health and welfare of the residents.
The ordinance added that the local government finds that agricultural activities in farmlands in urbanizing areas are potentially subject to lawsuits based on the theory of nuisance and that these suits encourage and even force the premature removal of the farmland from agriculture use.
Yangot explained it is the purpose of the local legislation to protect reasonable agricultural activities in farmlands from nuisance suits filed against farmers in the various barangays of the city.
Under the proposed ordinance, the City Veterinary Office shall, in coordination with the City Health Services Office, the City Planning and Development Office, City Environment and Parks Management Office, City Permits and Licensing Office, and other concerned agencies promulgate the appropriate rules and regulations for the effective implementation of the local legislative measure and shall also regularly monitor strict compliance to the same.
The 1987 Constitution stated that it is a declared policy of the State to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of its agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products and when residential, commercial, industrial and other non-agricultural land uses extend into agricultural farms, said farms become the subject of nuisance suits and as a result, farms are sometimes forced to cease operations.
On the other hand, he explained that because of nuisance suits, many individuals are discouraged from making investments in farm improvements which could affect the self-sufficiency of the people in urban areas.
In the city, the ordinance stipulated that there are areas still available for agricultural purposes which can contributes to better income and sustainable livelihood for the residents.
It added that in the face of expanding urban centers, extractive issues, and red and green tape on farms promoting and protecting farmers’ skill and proficiency to conduct business, cultivate the landscape, provide environmental stewardship and grow food, farmers must be supported in terms of relevant local legislations.
By Dexter A. See