Nation can’t sit out on regional trade blocs: ‘next-generation’ pig farmers

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Self-declared “next-generation” pig farmers on Saturday said they believe Taiwan cannot afford to sit out from regional trade blocs. An unofficial alliance of youth farmers drew attention on Saturday as they marched in the Kuomintang’s (KMT) “March for Taiwan’s Stability” in Taipei.

The farmers said they expected Taiwan’s next ruling administration to actively pursue membership in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Taiwan’s ban on U.S. pork containing a controversial leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine has emerged as a key stumbling block in Taiwan’s bid to join the TPP. The U.S. has pushed for Taiwan to lift the ban in accordance with the standards of the TPP, which permits the import of U.S. pork containing ractopamine based on some scientific studies that deem the additive safe. Last year, the R.O.C. Swine Association (中華民國養豬協會) threatened to launch nationwide protests if the newly elected central government chose to lift the ban. In a press conference, the R.O.C. Swine Association said that an inflow of cheap U.S. pork would depress the domestic wholesale price and force half of Taiwan’s pig farms to exit the industry. Kuo Chia-ui (郭嘉育), representing what he called “young” and “next-generation” farmers, on Saturday spoke in support of trade liberalization. Kuo said that the next generation of pig farmers believed Taiwan could not afford to be excluded from regional trade blocs. He said Taiwan’s bid to join the TPP was inevitable, regardless of who rose to power in the presidential elections. More Help for Farmers But Kuo called on the central government to step up assistance to farmers to strengthen the structure of the domestic pork industry. Young farmers hope that Taiwan’s ruling administration can address three of their top concerns to ensure sustainable development of the pig industry, he said. First, young farmers call for the government to accelerate efforts to eradicate foot-and-mouth disease, which has plagued herds and hurt sales and production for 18 years. Controlling the disease would help the pork industry expand faster into international markets, according to the group. Second, young farmers hope the government can establish carcass cutting centers to strengthen quality control and encourage farmers to develop differentiated products. Third, the union calls on the central government to establish a “livestock park” that marshals the resources of industry members willing to invest in advanced hardware such as biogas power generation plants, Kuo said. He said the alliance of “next-generation” farmers began to organize into a lobby group in 2014. The association of young farmers has held two meetings and plans to hold a third after the general elections to announce their formal launch.