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Sat, May 27, 2000 - Page 3 News List

Tobacco farmers protest turns into scuffle

STAFF WRITER

A scuffle broke out yesterday during a protest by tobacco farmers in front of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Board(TTWB, 菸酒公賣局) in Taipei yesterday.

Traveling on 12 tour buses, more than 500 farmers form southern Taiwan arrived at the TTWB office on Nan-chang Road at 8am yesterday.

The farmers, mostly from Kaohsiung, Pingtung and Meinung, were protesting against the low compensation rates offered by the TTWB for them to stop growing tobacco.

A scuffle broke out between police and the farmers after negotiations with TTWB officials broke down.

The bureau plans to restructure itself into a company and cut its business operations in the tobacco market. The cut will affect 3,000 hectares of tobacco farms.

The farmers demanded NT$1.6 million per hectare in compensation for the TTWB's cut in annual purchases. The current compensation rate is NT$600,000. The farmers also demanded a gradual reduction of the bureau's tobacco purchases.

TTWB director general Shih Yen-shiang(施顏祥) said the bureau would seek a higher compensation rate with the Ministry of Finance.

Local cigarette brands have been gradually losing domestic market share, resulting in an oversupply of tobacco.

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