Taipei, May 28 (CNA) Local hog farmers should not raise more animals than they are legally allowed to, since overproduction will lead to a slump in the price of pork, Agriculture Minister Hu Hsing-hua said Monday,
Speaking on the sidelines of a Legislative Yuan committee hearing, Hu said a supply glut is the main cause behind the recent steep decline in domestic pork prices.
"Therefore, we hope our hog farmers will abide by the regulations to maintain stability on the pork market," he said.
According to local media reports, the Council of Agriculture (COA) has since early April asked city and county governments to investigate and fine pig farms that were exceeding their legal quota by 100 percent and more. The move, however, has drew strong protests from hog farmers, the reports said.
Hsu Kuei-sen, director of the COA's Animal Industry Department, said overproduction has become a rampant and serious problem and has resulted in a drastic slump in pork prices.
"Some hog farmers have asked us to punish those who exceed their quotas, but only a few farmers have actually been penalized," Hsu said.
The department mainly has been advising pig farmers to abide by the law, rather than punish them under the Animal Industry Act, he added.
Meanwhile, hog farmers have complained that the government does not play fair, as it punishes them for overproduction, while buying up surplus grains at favorable prices.
In response, Hu said there are no laws that prescribe penalties for overproduction of grain.
"We hope our hog farmers will stick to the regulations so as to prevent glut and maintain market order," Hu added.
On the just-concluded inspection tour by a Taiwanese delegation tocheck beef safety in the United States, Hu said the itinerary was proposed by Taiwan, not dictated by U.S. authorities as some media reports claimed.
"The U.S. government offered technical assistance but the locations visited were all picked by the delegation," Hu said.
During its 23-day visit, the delegation looked at slaughterhouses, cattle farms, feed plants and laboratories across the U.S. and has gained a systematic understanding of U.S. beef supply operations, he said.
The seven-member delegation returned to Taipei Sunday after inspecting nine slaughterhouses that supply 65 percent of the U.S. beef exported to Taiwan.
The delegation concluded that beef products from the U.S. aresafe to eat despite confirmation of a new mad cow disease case there in late April.
(By Chen Wei-ting and Sofia Wu)