Restructuring Cultivation, Revitalizing Land Use
In recent years, as a result of climate change, the international supply of food has become unstable. On the other hand, Taiwan currently has about 200,000 hectares of fallow farmland, of which nearly 100,000 hectares are capable of two crop seasons per year. Each year the government spends over NT$10 billion in “guidance expenses” without generating any production value or employment opportunities. This situation should be remedied.
The COA, aiming to ensure the nation’s food security, has drafted a program for adjusting the cultivation system and for revitalizing the use of farmland. As of 2013, we have begun asking owners of a total of 50,000 hectares of land that has been continuously fallow to either plant one season of crops themselves or to rent out the land to someone with the willingness and ability to cultivate contract crops. Money that had previously been spent to subsidize farmers for leaving land fallow will henceforth be sued to subsidize contract crops, thereby revitalizing the use of the land and taking the policies governing agricultural development in Taiwan in a new direction.
It is estimated that the implementation of this program will raise Taiwan’s food self- sufficiency rate by 1.4%, so that by 2016 this rate will reach 34.9%. Concrete measures are summarized here:
New regulations regarding farmland cultivation subsidies
■ Land can remain fallow for one crop season each year; subsidies will be provided to plant contract crops during the other crop season, in order to encourage the owners of fallow land to bring it back under cultivation or to rent it to someone who will.
■ The two years 2013-2014 are to be considered a transitional period. Where application has been made to rent out fallow land but this land has not yet been rented out, then the owner can receive subsidies of NT$20,000 per hectare for the purposes of plowing the land in preparation for resumed cultivation by a renter.
■ For land designated as “ecological conservation land” (such as protected terraced rice paddies) or land designated as especially difficult to cultivate, subsidies of NT$34,000 per hectare will be available each season for two crop seasons per year.
■ Under this program there are also subsides of NT$45,000 per hectare for cultivation of “green fertilizer” and NT$34,000 per hectare for plowing these into the land.
Promotion of the planting of contract crops
■ The following table shows the contract crop items that are eligible for subsidies and the subsidy levels per hectare of land per growing season.
Note: Subsidies for organic crops are limited to a three-year period from the date that the organic farm applies for certification as having met the prescribed criteria for the transitional period. The certification process for organic crops planted on fallow land brought back into cultivation is the same as that for the normal organic certification process, with farms receiving “transitional period” certification, full organic certification, and so on, based on which farmers can apply for subsidies targeted at encouraging the development of the organic agriculture industry.
■ Rules governing subsidies for “special local products”
(1) For crops selected by local governments as “special local products,” the central government will provide a subsidy of NT$20,000 per hectare per growing season; remaining funds must come from the local government. If an imbalance between supply and demand occurs, the local government must bear responsibility for 30% of the costs of handling the imbalance. This policy will be implemented beginning in 2014.
(2) As a transitional measure, in 2013, the central government will provide subsidies of NT$24,000 per hectare per growing season. However, where an imbalance arises between supply and demand for the designated “special local product,” the local government must bear responsibility for 30% of the costs of handling the imbalance.
■ For each farmland district, application can only be made twice per year total out of the following three measures: (a) guaranteed-price purchasing for grains, (b) contract crops, or (c) subsidies for leaving the land fallow. Of these two applications, only one can be for item (c), subsidies for leaving the land fallow.
Guidance measures for Big Tenant Farmers
■ The scope of rental will be extended to the base period 1994 to 2003 for land that was defined as continuously fallow land in 2006 or 2007.
■ Subsidies will be given, based on the standards listed in the chart above, to those who plant contract crops, plus an additional NT$10,000 per hectare in rental incentives.
■ A subsidy of NT$10,000 per hectare for land improvement will be given in cases of renting of continuously fallow land in 2011. This is a one-time only subsidy.
■ Equipment subsidies, interest free loans for rent, and low interest loans (1%) for operating capital, as well as special-case relief subsidies for victims of natural disasters, will continue to be available.
■ Adjustment of guidance measures for wet-paddy rice cultivation:
(1) For Big Tenant Farmers (BTFs) who signed contracts to rent farmland prior to July 4, 2012, subsidies are NT$40,000 per hectare for the contract period, and these BTFs are allowed to sell rice to the public rice purchasing system.
(2) In the case of contract extensions, where the total combined period of the old contract and the renewed contract is six years, and the original scale of operations is maintained, the BTF can choose one of the following two options:
(a) Subsidy of NT$40,000 per hectare, but may not sell rice to the public rice purchasing system.
(b) Subsidy of NT$20,000 per hectare, and may sell rice to the public rice purchasing system.
(3) For those BTFs who signed new as of July 5, 2012 or afterwards, with the intention of cultivating rice, the BTF receives a subsidy of NT$20,000 per hectare per growing season, but may not sell rice to the public rice purchasing system.
Guidance measures for landowners
The amount of rent is decided by negotiation between the landowner and tenant. For landowners who are 65 or over and have qualified for the “farmers’ health insurance” program for a minimum of five years, where these landowners rent their land to a Big Tenant Farmer, they can receive a retirement bonus of NT$2000 per hectare per month, up to three hectares, which is to say payments of a maximum of NT$72,000 per year.