Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Group urges amending of laws governing farmlands

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

The civic group Taiwan Rural Front on Thursday called on the government to amend the Agricultural Development Act (農業發展條例) to more strictly regulate farmhouses.

The call came in the wake of recent controversial farmhouse legality issues surrounding political figures after Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chiu Yi’s (邱毅) allegation that a farmhouse in Pingtung County owned by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) violated the rule that 90 percent of the farmland must be used only for farming.

The Taiwan Rural Front said the cause of the controversy was an amendment to the Agricultural Development Act in 2000 that opened the door to the free market purchase and sale of farmlands and allowed architectural structures to be built on farmlands that exceed 0.25 hectares in size.

Farmland speculation and construction of mansions have appeared on high-quality farmland across the country, and even large-scale cluster farmhouses built by construction companies could be seen on farmlands with convenient access, the group said in a statement.

The fracturing of farmland caused by increasing numbers of -extravagant farmhouses or mansions have also led to soaring farmland prices, which is unfavorable to self-supporting farmers, adding that pollution from these houses have worsened the farming environment.

To protect the farming environment in Taiwan, the group urged legislators to amend the Agricultural Development Act and the Regulations Governing Agricultural Dwelling Houses (農業用地興建農舍辦法) to clearly state the principle that “farmlands are reserved for agricultural uses” and set up related operational definitions and procedures.

“The current food self--sufficiency rate in Taiwan is 32 percent, lower than that of many developed countries. However, food is an important national strategic resource, so many countries are now protecting their farmlands to secure sufficient food supplies,” the group’s statement said, adding that the farmlands in special agricultural zones are all high-quality farmland and should be reserved strictly for agricultural use.

It also suggested that the Council of Agriculture and the Ministry of the Interior’s Land Consolidation Engineering Bureau work together to inspect rural areas to plan adequate land use that can differentiate residential districts from agricultural land areas.

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