The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed a third reading of the Farmers’ Insurance Act (農業保險法), which aims to safeguard the income of farmers, animal breeders, fishers and foresters from natural disasters and other incidents.
The act identifies entities that can provide farmers’ insurance, including designated farmers’ or fishers’ associations, as well as insurance companies.
It stipulates that associations should create a dedicated account for the handling of the insurance that would be subject to internal controls and audit regulations to be introduced by the Council of Agriculture.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
Insurance for operators in the agricultural, animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry sectors can be compulsory or voluntary, depending on the government’s policies, which are to be detailed by the council, it says.
The act stipulates that insured parties are required to pay a premium before an insurance contract takes effect.
Depending on the nature of the insured party and the insurance, the council can subsidize up to 75 percent of the premium in the first five years of the act’s passage and up to 60 percent from the sixth year, it says.
However, parties for which insurance is mandatory are not subject to the subsidy ceilings, it adds.
The act calls for the council to help providers develop insurance packages, subsidize the cost of developing the packages or give them rewards.
The council is to establish a farmers’ insurance fund to determine the risks associated with people who work in the four sectors and develop policies to manage them, the act says.
Funding would be provided by donations from the government, income from offering insurance, endowments and loans, as well as from any generated interest and investment returns, it says.
The council should increase the amount of donations annually until they reach NT$10 billion (US$334.2 million), then make adjustments based on the number of insured people in relation to losses sustained by the fund, it adds.
The council is responsible for establishing inspection rules and should provide any necessary assistance to inspection personnel, the act says, adding that personnel charged with determining losses must receive training and certification from the council.
The council should also set the qualifications for inspection personnel, develop training programs, introduce certification rules and create an inspection personnel database, it says.
The council may conduct unannounced inspections of the associations, whose executives must not evade inspections or provide council officials with false or incomplete files or reports, the act says.
Associations that offer insurance without the council’s approval would be fined between NT$300,000 and NT$1.5 million, it says.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who helped draft the act, said that the nation’s agricultural industry on average suffers losses of NT$12.3 billion annually due to weather and pests.
Grants issued by the government in the event of natural disasters are no longer enough to offset the losses, she said.
The goals of providing farmers with stable income and achieving sustainable agriculture can be realized by implementing a sound insurance system and increasing the protection for crops from natural disasters, she added.
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