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DPL amends agricultural grazing rules to address concerns with cow manure

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THE Department of Public Lands has amended agricultural grazing rules to address the problem with cow manure in Marpi, DPL Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo said on Thursday.

In a meeting with officials of the Marianas Visitors Authority, the Veterans Affairs Office and agricultural and grazing permittees, the DPL secretary said her department may reconsider the sizes of grazing permit areas if permittees continue to “lose their cows.”

The grazing permit is renewable and not for long-term, she added. “We encourage you to maintain your fence. Everybody is aware that this has been an ongoing issue.”

Concepcion-Teregeyo reiterated that while DPL wants to continue renewing the cattle ranchers’ grazing permits, “we will not continue renewing your permits if your cattle are continuously found outside.”

DPL real estate director Bonnie T. Royal said a permittee is given 60 days from the date of the agreement to post a fence along the perimeter of the permitted premises for the purpose of confining agriculture livestock.

 Department of Public Lands Secretary Marianne Concepcion-Teregeyo, left center background, meets with other government officials and grazer permittees on Thursday in the DPL conference room.

Joaquin Guerrero, one of the grazer permittees in Marpi, speaks about the need for government support. Photos by Junhan B. Todino

Royal said a permittee should also apply war tags or permanent hot brands to identify and track livestock. Marking cattle and other agricultural livestock for identification should involve methods that are easy to read at a distance and are easy to apply and are permanent, Royal added.

DPL compliance division director Gregory P. Deleon Guerrero said a permittee is responsible for the action of his or her livestock and those found roaming freely outside the permitted premises would be a violation of the agreement.

He said  three notices of violations will result in termination and repeated offenses including damage to private and public properties is also subject to the cancellation of the agreement.

“In the event that livestock appears ferocious and unsafe to the public, DPL may request the assistance of Department of Public Safety to take any means of action to protect the public’s safety and interest,” Deleon Guerrero said.

He added that the permittee is also responsible for removing the carcass of slaughtered livestock, and for disposing of it at any designated dumping area.

Joaquin Guerrero, one of the agricultural grazing permittees in Marpi, acknowledged the problem with loose cattle in the area.

“I try my very best to maintain the farm,” he said. However, he added, there are several issues he has encountered in the past that also need to be addressed.

During typhoons Soudelor and Yutu, he said, “lots of trees fell down and damaged the fence line. The military also cut some trees when they conducted a survey in the area. They came in and basically cut down all the grass.”

He said this  created a problem for the ranchers because grass was no longer available in the area.

Guerrero said the ranchers need assistance to clear the fence line.

“The biggest problem is equipment and none of us here own a tractor,” he said. “We also need some help from the government.”

He noted that some people collect cow manure to use as fertilizer, but not the trash that is also scattered in the area.

Guerrero said the DPL 60-day period  to post a fence is “not manageable.”

Concepcion-Teregeyo said  the grazers should organize and seek the assistance of the Division of Agriculture.

There are 12 agricultural grazing permittees in the Marpi area, which is a tourist site.

Marianas Visitors Authority Managing Director Priscilla Iakopo said cow manure in Marpi is a public health concern and an eyesore.

MVA, she added, is working toward reopening the island to tourists who don’t want to see cow manure at tourist destinations.

For his part, Veterans Affairs Office executive officer Stanley I. Iakopo said the cow manure also tarnishes the “sacredness” of the veterans cemetery in the area.

“We have to show respect to the heroes and their families buried there. They are our loved ones,” he added.

Also attending the meeting were Division of Parks and Recreation acting Director Isidoro Camacho, DPL planning division director Pat Rasa, MVA community projects manager Martin Duenas, and other grazer permittees.

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