Apart from the problem of subsidies for farmland that is left fallow, there is much inefficiency in Taiwan in terms of price subsidies for food and this results in distorted markets, the destruction of resources and additional environmental pollution. These are problems we really need to fix.
In the future, when Taiwan is thinking about how to adjust measures for purchasing agricultural products at guaranteed prices, apart from carrying out fixed payments, it is even more important that the actual conditions of industry and the market be taken into consideration and a diversified planning mechanism formulated. This is the only way that farmers’ incomes can be guaranteed while also ensuring efficient food production.
Concern over global climate change has led to an increased awareness of environmental protection and growing concern about food safety among consumers. Agricultural protection policies in advanced nations such as those in the EU have shifted away from merely focusing on the income of farmers and agricultural development, and instead developed an emphasis on agricultural and rural development coupled with a focus on agricultural environments and sustainable development in rural economies.
To achieve these goals, such nations have adopted measures such as assisting farmers in engaging in production according to EU standards, giving subsidies to farmers who produce high-quality agricultural produce, giving subsidies to farmers who adopt more advanced animal husbandry feeding methods and increasing the number of investment subsidies for young farmers to encourage them to get into agriculture.
They have also placed a special emphasis on those who meet the necessary environmental standards while also giving subsidies to those who engage in multifunctional forms of agricultural production in the hope of increasing the quality of agricultural products.
Additional benefits include the improvement of the environment in rural areas, leading to an increase in the diversification and multifunctional use of rural economies. This leads farmers to adjust the structure of their agricultural production, increasing environmental awareness among them and increasing the international competitiveness of their agricultural products.
These are all measures Taiwan’s agricultural bodies should seriously consider adopting, as they are the only ways to give farmers a tangible sense of improvement and recovery.
Du Yu is chief executive officer of the Chen-Li Task Force for Agricultural Reform.
Translated by Drew Cameron