Pig farmers remain firm on plan to protest US beef imports


TAIPEI–Taiwan’s pig farmers remain firm over their decision to take to the streets in Taipei on March 8 to protest any move to lift the ban on imports of U.S. beef that contain residues of a muscle-growth drug, a representative of the pig farming sector said yesterday.

By lodging their protest in the nation’s capital, some 20,000 pig farmers from around the country will make known their resolution to defend Taiwan’s dignity in the ongoing controversy with the United States over possible imports of beef that contain ractopamine, said Pan Lien-chou, an executive of the Swine Association of the Republic of China. Via the protest, the pig farmers will also make it clear that they will protect Taiwan consumers’ right to safe meat and make sure that the country’s livestock industry can operate in a sustainable way, Pan said. The protest, re-scheduled from March 5, is also being planned on fears that once Taiwan’s market opens to U.S. beef containing the leanness enhancer, it will be forced to open even more widely to other American meat products, including pork. Taiwan’s pig farming sector, made up of over 10,000 pig farming households, produces some 8.6 million hogs a year. The United States has recently been pressuring Taiwan to accept beef with residues of ractopamine. Washington saw the issue as important enough to block the resumption of talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement after Taiwan cracked down on U.S. beef with ractopamine residues in early 2011. The government, under pressure from the U.S., has been considering whether to relax its ban on ractopamine and allow the sale of beef that contains traces of the drug. On the thorny issue, Premier Sean Chen said Friday that the government has not yet made a decision on the beef issue and it respects all kinds of opinions, regardless of the way they are expressed. Chen said the leanness-enhancing drug is allowed in livestock feed in 27 countries around the world, including the U.S., but is banned in 29 countries, including 27 European Union states and Taiwan. “It is not an issue in all the other countries,” he added.