Minister of Agriculture Chen Bao-ji said (陳保基) yesterday said that a set of draft regulations to curb farmland speculation is to be completed by June, but it has not yet been decided whether the new rules should be made retroactive.
The draft amendments to the Regulations Governing Agricultural Dwelling Houses (農業用地興建農舍辦法) are designed to stop speculation by closing loopholes that allow people who are not farmers to develop farmland under the guise of building farmhouses and other structures for agricultural use, Chen said.
Such speculation has resulted in high land prices, which deters many young people from working as farmers, Chen said at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee in Taipei.
The Council of Agriculture (COA) is set to complete the draft amendments by June, but has not yet decided whether to make them retroactive, Chen said.
Under the new amendments, people applying to build farmhouses are to be required to show National Health Insurance (NHI) registration under Category 3, which is designated for members of farmers’, fishermen’s and irrigation associations, the minister said.
In the period 2008 to 2013, only 38.8 percent of the 16,338 people who had applied for permission to construct buildings for agricultural purposes were found to have category 3 NHI status, Chen said, citing the findings of a one-year investigation by the COA.
Chen said the problem is most common in Yilan County, where farmland prices have been rising rapidly, and it was found that most of the structures built on farmland there in the past three years had already changed hands.
In addition to introducing the NHI status regulation, the new amendments are to mandate that farmland development be limited to no more than one-10th of the arable land on the property, Chen said.
One of the loopholes in the current law is that while it states farm-building owners must be actively engaged in agricultural activity, it does not explicitly define those activities, according to the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau.
In addition, the regulations related to enforcement of the law by local governments are inadequate, the bureau said.
It said the current five-year ban on the resale of agricultural structures must be coupled with more stringent rules regarding buyers and developers.
However, the bureau expressed concern about the introduction of the NHI status requirement, saying it raises issues of disclosure of private information.
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