The Council of Agriculture yesterday said it will set up a fund to subsidize farmers for losses they could encounter after the government implements its free economic pilot zones.
The pilot zones are to allow food-processing companies to set up factories within the zones and to import agricultural raw materials that are currently banned from being shipped in, the council said.
For example, after the policy takes effect, local pineapple cake makers might start importing pineapples from abroad, and companies selling tea leaves are likely to use more of such products from China and Vietnam, Wu Ming-ming (吳明敏), a professor from Kainan University, said yesterday in Taipei during a public hearing regarding the establishment of the pilot zones.
The council said its preliminary estimation indicates that the output of farmers who supply their products to food-processing companies is between NT$23.5 billion and NT$35 billion (US$783 million and US$1.17 billion) a year.
The council did not specify an amount of potential damage local farmers might encounter.
Meanwhile, Su Wei-shuo (蘇偉碩), president of an association for farmers, said the government should not allow food-processing companies to label their products as “Made in Taiwan” if they used materials from abroad, because such a practice was likely to hurt the reputation for food made in the nation if cheaper ingredients from other countries was allowed under the “Made in Taiwan” label.
The policy is also to allow companies to transport pet fish from abroad to the zones for distribution to other countries.
In about 100 countries, companies can provide 5,400 kinds of fish to customers, while Taiwan currently only allows fish suppliers to bring 460 kinds into the country, Fan Tsu-hao (方祖豪), executive director of Taiwan Ornamental Fish Association, said at the hearing.
Meanwhile, participants at the hearing said that the draft was incomplete because it lacks clear regulations for supervising imports, which might present an opportunity for companies to import animals illegally.
In response, the National Development Council said that it would revise the draft to close loopholes that could give rise to animal trafficking.