Cattle farmers will team up with pig farmers and protest in Taipei if the government caves in to US pressure and drops its ban on ractopamine in imported US beef, a group of farmers said yesterday.
The Taiwan Beef Industry Progress Association plans to burn US flags and portraits of US President Barack Obama during a demonstration scheduled for later this month in Taipei, Tseng Chin-jui (曾進瑞) said on behalf of association director Liu San-ho (劉三和).
The association firmly opposes any policy that would allow the use of the controversial leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
The beef industry said if the Taiwanese market were opened to US beef containing the drug, the market would eventually be forced to accept even more US meat products.
“All the world, including the US itself, is going organic. Why do they want Taiwanese to eat US beef reared using ractopamine?” the association said.
Pig farmers originally planned the protest because they feared that allowing imports of US beef with ractopamine would pave the way for the drug’s presence in pork.
Hsu Kuai-sheng (許桂森), director of the Council of Agriculture’s husbandry division, visited swine farmers in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli counties and Greater Taichung yesterday to hear their opinions.
He said he would urge them to have confidence in the government.
The protest plans come amid speculation that the government is considering a plan to adopt a practice similar to Japan’s in which local farmers are banned from using ractopamine, but imports of US beef containing residue from the drug would be allowed.
A closed-door inter-ministerial meeting on beef imports took place on Friday, but no decision was made on whether the government would say “yes” to US beef containing ractopamine.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reiterated yesterday that the government has not set a timetable for resolving the problem and is not currently partial to any particular solution.
“We will surely assess and research both public health consideration and our trade and economic interests, as well as inviting opinions from different fields. A decision will be made based on science, experience and facts,” Ma said.
Ma also reiterated that the government has not made any promises to Washington.