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Protecting the Welfare, Rights, and Interests of the Rural Population
Welfare allowances for elderly farmers
Under the law, each farmer aged 65 or over who meets specified criteria is entitled to receive an allowance of NT$6000 per month. In 2010, NT$50.535 billion was paid out to 726,000 recipients.
Scholarship program for the children of farmers and fishermen
In order to ensure that the children of farmers and fishermen do not, for economic reasons, miss out on the chance to get high-school and college educations, a program was launched in September of 2003 to provide financial support for such farmers and fishermen. In 2010 a total of NT$1.691 billion in academic subsidies was paid out, helping 245,000 children continue their education.
Helping farmers cope with natural disasters and international competition
In 2010 there were eight natural disasters affecting farmers, including frost damage, Typhoon Fanapi, and Typhoon Magi. To aid recovery and replantation, the COA provided cash relief totalling NT$2.511 billion, benefiting 93,100 farmers and fishermen. In addition, low-interest loans for natural disasters affecting agriculture were made available, under which 862 households borrowed NT$1.2 billion.
With the advent of the WTO, trade in agroproducts has been liberalized, and the COA has had to respond to two needs: helping domestic producers threatened by imports, and helping farmers compete internationally in order to export more of their goods. We have pursued structural adjustment across agriculture (including fruit, rice, tea, hogs, poultry, and cattle) and also in the fisheries industry. We have worked to reinvigorate and retrain the agricultural labor force, to improve immunization and quarantine work, and to help in international marketing of Taiwan agroproducts.
Adjusting market balance for agroproducts
As a measure to ensure against overproduction, 261 hectares of bulk vegetables were plowed under. Also, an Internet reporting system was set up, and control was exerted over production volume and area through management of seedlings. An upper limit was set every 10 days, and warnings were issued during periods of excess asking farmers to reduce planting.
The COA bought inferior oranges from farmers for processing, or guided farmers in turning inferior oranges into organic fertilizer. We purchased 9,500 metric tons (MT) of oranges in 2009/2010, and 6,078 MT in 2010/2011. We also purchased 1,243 MT of guavas, and bought 17,118 MT of bananas for processing (another 1,753 MT of bananas were sold domestically). These measures stabilized prices and ensured fair returns to farmers.
Monthly conferences were convened on the supply of hogs in the market, to ensure orderly distribution and marketing and to keep actual supply within a 3% margin of market-negotiated supply. Seasonal conferences for early warning on hog prices were also held. Surveys were conducted on all kinds of poultry products (chicken, duck, goose, turkey, ostrich and eggs), to provide fast, complete, and accurate information on production and sales; daily market reports were also issued.
To balance supply and demand for fisheries products and ensure orderly production and marketing, we strengthened surveys of production volumes in the aquaculture industry, and established reporting stations at 25 wholesale fish markets and 15 aquaculture ponds to monitor prices. We conducted daily monitoring and analyses of the seafood market to ensure that we maintained accurate statistics on the fisheries industry.
Public stock rice purchasing
In order to stabilize the domestic supply of rice and to ensure farmers・ incomes, the government has been purchasing paddy rice at guaranteed prices since 1974. In 2010, it procured 124,000 metric tons (MT) in the first crop season and 67,000 MT in the second crop season, for a total of 191,000 MT. Total outlays were NT$4.33 billion. The deficit was about NT$500 million.
Because typhoons affected the quality of rice in the second crop season of 2010, and because the large harvest in 2009 left the private sector with extra stocks in storage, the market price was less than ideal for rice at the beginning of the second crop harvest season. The COA took a variety of response measures, including extending application deadlines to allow more farmers to sell rice to the state under guaranteed prices, which effectively reduced the volume of rice held by the private sector and thereby stabilized prices and returns to farmers.
Fishermen・s insurance and maritime rescue service s
Under current regulations, fishermen killed, missing, or permanently injured as a result of coastal or at-sea operations are covered by insurance. Last year payments were made for 66 persons, and totaled NT$49.59 million.
Under the guidance of the COA, the Taiwan Province Fishermen・s Association operates a fund for those killed, missing, or permanently injured while doing at-sea fishing or at-sea aquaculture. Last year the fund gave out NT$20.67 million in assistance.
Under regulations governing accidents affecting fishermen or fishing boats, last year the COA approved condolence payments totaling NT$2.46 million to 54 persons. In addition, emergency assistance was provided in the cases of 20 fishing boats lost or damaged in accidents, with outlays totaling NT$1.31 million.
Livestock insurance was launched on a trial basis in 1954, the national legal framework was completed in 1960, and the policy formally went into effect at the local level in 1963. Under the Agricultural Development Act and the Livestock Insurance Regulations, the insurance system is run by local-level farmers associations, with the government playing a guidance role. Livestock insurance helps spread the risk of raising livestock, discourages illegal trade in carcasses, encourages quality in livestock management, and strengthens disease prevention, ultimately lowering operating costs.
Livestock insurance includes death insurance for dairy cows, death insurance for hogs, and transport insurance for hogs. Of these, death insurance for hogs has been extended to every city and county in Taiwan (including all five municipalities). The program has been very successful and has won strong support from farmers.
A total of almost 9.4 million head were insured in 2010. Of these, 19,778 were dairy cows, with the remainder being hogs (7.98 million being insured against death-on-farm and nearly 1.4 million against death-in-transport).