The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) and pig farmers from Pingtung County yesterday demonstrated outside the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Taipei against a proposed lifting of a ban on imports of US pork products, and vowed to mobilize larger protests if the incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government does not maintain the ban.
Pork farmers led by Pingtung County Pork Farmers’ Association president Pan Chang-cheng (潘長成) and TSU members held placards that read: “No to American pork with ractopamine” and “No to toxic pork, defend our health.”
“Allowing pork with ractopamine to be imported from the US would have severe impacts on pig farmers, as well as on public health,” Pan said.
“Nearly 98 percent of pork products in Taiwan are locally produced, which shows that we do not need to import pork from elsewhere, especially if the pork contains ractopamine,” Pan said.
“If the next government insists on lifting the ban, I will mobilize pig farmers from across the nation to demonstrate in front of the Presidential Office and the Council of Agriculture [(COA],” he added.
He expressed his concerns that pork prices might drop by 50 percent if US pork is allowed to be imported, which could have a major impact on the more than 300,000 people working in related industries, and a majority of pig farmers might not be able to survive, as most of them draw their funding from loans.
“[COA minister-designate] Tsao Chi-hung (曹啟鴻) has served as Pingtung County commissioner, he should know the problem very well,” Pan said. “He should know that Pingtung has the largest pig farming industry in the nation, which supplies about one-quarter of the pork in the nation, and would suffer the most if US pork products are allowed to be imported.”
Pan accused Tsao of “surrendering before the fight has even started.”
The latest dispute over pork imports was sparked when Tsao said in a recent interview with the Chinese-language United Daily News that he would not be able to stop the lifting of the ban.
TSU’s Department of Organization director Chao Chao-lin (張兆林) said Tsao would not have made the statement without prior consideration, adding that Tsao saying so probably means the US is putting pressure on the incoming DPP government.
“That is why we are here to show the public opinion related to the US here,” Chang said. “We are also showing the incoming government that they are backed by the government in their negotiations with the US, and thus should not give up on the pork issue.”