It could also set up different distribution channels to separate US pork from domestic pork. At the same time, it should promote locally produced food products and encourage consumers to buy local produce, as well as offer ways for farmers who want to exit the industry. Above all, these pledges should be enshrined in law to prevent the government from going back on its word.
From the perspective of industrial sustainability, it would not be appropriate to rush forward and allow US pork imports at the current stage. However, following changes in the general environment, such as trade liberalization, increased green gas emissions, changes in consumption patterns, population increases, water shortages and rapid agricultural development in other countries, it has become imperative for Taiwan to implement major structural adjustments to its agricultural industry. The government should use this as an opportunity to respond to such changes, by actively promoting green energy agriculture and zero-pollution hog farming.
Although the domestic hog farming industry is bigger than other types of livestock farming, it is still made up mostly of small and medium-sized farms that are vulnerable to fluctuations in feed and hog prices. Taiwanese hog farms cannot compete with farms overseas that usually have more than 10,000 pigs.
In addition, the waste and polluted water generated by such farms has a negative impact on the environment. All these issues are areas in which the government should offer guidance and improvements. How to make Taiwanese agriculture strong enough to respond to the impact of market opening and deregulation that could follow from international trade talks is more urgent than an all-out effort to prevent market opening altogether.
Du Yu is a member of the Chen-Li task force for Agricultural Reform.
Translated by Perry Svensson