Rep. Relampagos Seeks to Empower Local Organic Farmers

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Rep. Relampagos Seeks to Empower Local Organic Farmers

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relampagosIn an effort to empower the country’s local farmers, First District Bohol Representative Rene Relampagos is pushing for a bill that would protect the farmers from unfair and discriminatory methods of farming, like giving exclusive rights to private certifying bodies.

“House Bill No. 1779, once passed, will give a much-needed boost to our local organic market by recognizing the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) as a form of certification upon which products sold locally or internationally may acquire organic label,” the lawmaker explained.

Participatory Guarantee Systems are locally focused quality assurance systems that certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.

“Due to the high cost of getting certified by private certifying bodies, we inhibit the growth of organic agriculture in the country and at the same time, deters small farmers from going organic,” Rep. Relampagos said.

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Mindful of the many health benefits of organic goods, Rep. Relampagos said we need to promote and support organic agriculture by giving our small farmers and indigenous peoples who have long traditions of raising and producing organic goods a chance to have their produce carry the “organic” label.

“LGUs also play a vital role in raising awareness about the health, economic and environmental value of organic farming. Our local leaders should support sustainable agricultural methods, such as organic farming, as an alternative to the import-based and toxic farming methods in order to improve the well-being of our people,” he stressed.

Rep. Relampagos, however, is quick to say that although we give local bodies the authority to certify organic goods, it doesn’t mean all organic farms can already acquire a certification because they still have to comply with the necessary requirements set forth by the government agencies concerned.

Under said measure, the Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Product Standards (BAFPS) will be in charge of protecting the indigenous organic resources against cross-contamination through strict monitoring and field testing.

On a different note, the Bureau of Internal Revenue has already issued the necessary revenue regulations to implement Republic Act 10653 increasing the ceiling of taxable bonuses from P30,000.00 to P82,000.00. Hence, all bonuses not exceeding P82,000.00 shall now be tax exempt.

“With the increasing prices of commodities and education expenses, the exemption of bonuses from taxes is a much needed boost to increase the purchasing powers of regular employees in the private and public sector and ensure inclusive growth,” said Rep. Relampagos who authored one of the bills on increasing tax exemption on bonuses.

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