Government to spend NT$12.96 billion helping pork industry: COA

10/07/2020 08:33 PM
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At a pig farm in Yunlin County. CNA file photo
At a pig farm in Yunlin County. CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) Council of Agriculture (COA) chief Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Wednesday pledged that the government will provide NT$12.96 billion (US$447 million) in funding to assist the domestic pork industry, amid concerns from local pig farmers as Taiwan prepares to allow imports of U.S. pork containing the controversial feed additive ractopamine next year.

Speaking during a legislative hearing, Chen said the funding, to be spent over the next four years, will be used to support hog farmers' incomes; subsidize insurance premiums on hogs; develop more export opportunities for domestic pork and provide subsidies for facility upgrades.

The money will also be used to increase the inspection of imported U.S. pork with ractopamine, to ensure it is labeled correctly; encourage local restaurants to use domestic pork and promote the labeling of domestic pork products to clearly distinguish them from imported ones, said Chen.

The four-year project is currently still in the planning stage. The budget proposal is scheduled to be sent to the Executive Yuan later this month before it is submitted to the Legislative Yuan for final approval next month, he added.

Chen made the comments during a legislative hearing in which he briefed lawmakers on the COA's response to the possible impact on local pig farmers after Taiwan lifts its ban on ractopamine in imported pork.

Council of Agriculture chief Chen Chi-chung. CNA photo Oct. 7, 2020
Council of Agriculture chief Chen Chi-chung. CNA photo Oct. 7, 2020

The new policy, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, was announced by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Aug. 28 in an apparent effort to clear the way for a trade deal with the U.S.

To pave the way for the imports, the COA has previously said it will soon adopt maximum residue level standards (MRLs) for ractopamine in imported pork based on standards set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

However, the MRLs will only apply to imported pork with the ban on the additive in domestic hog-raising set to remain in place.

Critics of the decision have argued that it fails to prioritize the health of Taiwanese or the interests of local pig farmers, despite the government's reassurances.

(By Yang Shu-min and Joseph Yeh)

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