COA distributes NT$560 mil. in subsidies

By Zane Kheir ,The China Post

The Council of Agriculture’s (COA, �A�e�|) Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) announced yesterday that in order to support farmers hurt by the recent bird flu epidemic, the central government will subsidize 95 percent of farmers’ losses in the five most affected counties: Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan and Pingtung. The remaining 5 percent will be covered by local governments. In other counties, the COA will subsidize 90 percent and local governments will cover the remaining 10 percent. BAPHIQ chief Chang Shu-hsian (�i�Q��) stated yesterday that the COA has just distributed NT$427 million in subsidies to cover the value of slaughtered poultry to the most affected counties, while the previously distributed subsidy was NT$110 million, not including NT$20 million in immunization subsidies, making for a grand total of approximately NT$560 million. The breakdown of distributed funds for each of the five hard-hit counties are as follows: Changhua will receive NT$34 million, Yunlin NT$17.3 million, Chiayi NT$47 million, Tainan NT$34 million and Pingtung 12.9 million.

Chang requested that all local governments pragmatically carry out assessments of subsidized funds to ensure that farmers receive at least 60 percent of the subsidy they are entitled to before the start of the lunar new year. Chang explained that the subsidy amount is based on amounts that were determined by government officials corresponding to the actual cost of lost livestock. Chang believes the subsidies will assist farmers with rebuilding their facilities. In addition, to government would like to support the industry by providing low-interest loans and helping poultry breeders replenish their supply of livestock.

Chickens Still At High Risk: BAPHIQ Chang added that although a majority of the poultry affected by the epidemic is waterfowl, land birds such as chickens and turkeys are also at risk. Chang stated that the poultry industry as a whole should implement stricter controls on personnel, vehicles, equipment and holding facilities and ensure that all of these are properly disinfected. Chang emphasized that facilities must be maintained at industry standards. BAPHIQ also announced yesterday that an additional 23 farms submitted samples, making for a grand total of 599 farms across the island that have been tested. The majority of these were waterfowl farms, 63 of which also raise chickens, leading BAPHIQ to consider chickens at high risk. The recent rise in chicken prices has lead to the Executive Yuan to mobilize special tax units to investigate illegal price fixing activity.

According to the COA’s Livestock Research Institute, the average wholesale market price for chicken was NT$50.7 per taijin on Wednesday, a NT$1 increase from the previous day. Chicken at Taipei’s Huannan market (�٫n����) sold for NT$58 on Wednesday and also increased by NT$1 in a day. The Livestock Research Institute believes there is no firm reason to justify the price increase.