Skip to main content

Protecting the Welfare, Rights, and Interests of the Rural Population

Welfare benefits for elderly farmers

  To accommodate changes to the provisional law governing payment of welfare benefits (often called “pensions”) to elderly farmers—changes which exclude wealthy persons from receiving such pensions—the COA amended the regulations governing applications, review, and approval for these welfare benefits. The amendments set norms for incomes, agricultural land, and farmhouse values as well as detail the process for determining the persons who will be excluded on the basis of wealth. They also incorporate taxable or exempt status of the land into the deductions that can be made from the value of agricultural land.

  As for the fiscal year that will provide the comparative basis for income, in the interest of ensuring fairness in implementation as well as uniformity across the country, on November 28, 2012 the COA announced that for “personal total income excluding income from agriculture” over the previous fiscal year, the COA would use the categories of income for “personal total income tax” for the 2011 fiscal year, as provided by the Fiscal Information Agency of the Ministry of Finance, as the standard criteria.

  In addition, we have been educating the public about the “wealth exclusion” rules via electronic bulletin boards, and have put “FAQs” about changes in the pension system onto the COA website. We have also held eight courses on the new rules for staff at farmers’ and fishermen’s associations who are responsible for pensions, so that they can fully explain these rules to rural citizens.

  Starting on January 1, 2012, the amount of the welfare payment given out to qualified persons over 65 was raised from NT$6,000 per month to NT$7,000 per month. Total payments for 2012 were NT$56.36 billion, to 706,000 recipients.

Educational subsidies 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 in Taiwan, a program was launched in September of 2003 to provide financial support for these children. In 2012 a total of NT$1.355 billion in academic subsidies was paid out, helping 179,100 children continue their education.

Disaster relief subsidies and low-interest natural-disaster recovery loans (special case subsidies)

  In 2012 the COA offered special natural-disaster relief on 13 occasions for damage caused by natural disasters such as typhoons, torrential rain, continuous rain, cold surges, and the like. Disaster relief includes cash aid and special-case subsidies, which totaled NT$1.329 billion and benefited more than 55,000 rural households. This aid minimizes the suffering of famers and provides assistance for recovery and re-planting. In addition, the COA assisted 113 farmers and fishermen to obtain low-interest natural-disaster recovery loans totaling NT$83 million.

  The COA continued to train individuals in the skills necessary for assessing and reporting on conditions in the event of natural disasters, so as to increase the professional capabilities of these persons. We also purchased digital tools (such as digital cameras that have GPS tracking, tablet computers, and so on) to make on-site investigations more efficient and to deliver relief more quickly and effectively. Finally, based on forecasts from the Central Weather Bureau, the COA issues timely press releases, and through our own website we constantly update disaster prevention and response information in real time.

Strengthening market adjustment mechanisms

  The COA drafted “Guidance and Stabilization Measures for Production and Marketing of Agro-Products” for 43 important agro-products, and also amended the items covered by the “Division of Responsibilities between Central and Local Governments with respect to Production and Marketing Imbalances of Agro-Products” so that these rules now cover 55 items. We also set up a computer system for collection of data on cabbage, with reporting on planted areas for Chinese cabbage and broccoli by Internet; we issued three alerts in 2012 that the planted area would exceed a reasonable level within ten days. We coordinated the purchase and processing of 4018 metric tons (MT) of lesser grade oranges, 619 MT of pengkan tangerines, and 185 MT of tongkan tangerines, as well as assisted in finding markets for exporting of 585 MT of pengkan and 1104 MT of oranges.

  The COA convenes regular conferences on the supply of hogs, sheep, and poultry in the market, to ensure a balance of supply and demand. Pork prices are stabilized through actions taken by a special task force for this purpose, minimizing losses to farmers. The COA also coordinates the export of fresh eggs, and also buys, freezes, and stores free-range chickens to stabilize supply and prices.

  The COA also assists fishermen’s associations and fishing industry associations with marketing, and works with seafood markets and industry groups to adjust seafood supply and take other measures to stabilize prices at the point of production.

State purchases of rice for public stocks

  Rice is the most important crop in Taiwan. To stabilize incomes of rice growers and stabilize prices of this staple food, since 1974 the government has been purchasing rice at guaranteed prices. In recent years, as our social situation has changed, most farmers have no space to sun-dry rice, nor do they have dryers and related facilities, so since 2012 the government has allowed all farmers to sell fresh/wet paddy to the government under this program.

  In 2012, actual purchases for public stocks totaled 442,000 metric tons (MT), of which 63% was fresh/wet paddy, an increase of 4 percentage points over the 2011 level of 59%. Because purchasing of fresh/wet paddy makes selling to the state more convenient for farmers, willingness to sell is higher. The result is that the open market price of rice rose in 2012. For all of 2012, during purchasing periods the market price averaged NT$22.70 per kilogram, compared to NT$22.12 for the previous year, an increase of NT$0.67 or 3%. This increased the real income of all rice farmers.

Subsidizing fertilizer price differentials

  Most of the raw materials for fertilizers needed in Taiwan are imported. To ensure a normal supply of fertilizers, since May of 2008 the COA has been implementing a program to adjust the price of fertilizers and stabilize fertilizer supply, with the government subsidizing differentials for increased prices. In 2012 subsidies were continued for 11 types of chemical fertilizers. Total costs of the subsidy program from May 2008 through the end of 2012 were NT$19 billion.

  In 2012 international prices for raw materials for fertilizers continued to climb. Most of the increases in the domestic price of fertilizers were absorbed by government subsidies, thereby keeping the purchase price stable for farmers. After taking into account the subsidies, prices for fertilizers in Taiwan were lower in 2012 than in neighboring Japan and mainland China. Taking carbamide (urea) for example, farmers in Taiwan paid only 40% of what farmers in Japan paid, and the price in Taiwan was comparable to the price in mainland China, which is a carbamide producer nation.

Fishing boat safety, insurance, and compensation

  The Fishery Radio Station of the Fisheries Agency of the COA provides 24-hour information on weather and sea conditions, as well as sea rescue broadcasting services, helping to keep fishermen safe while operating at sea.

  Regulations announced in October of 2000 provided incentives for owners of motorized fishing vessels under 100 tons to sign up for insurance. More recently, on October 9 of 2012 the COA announced new “Regulations Governing Incentives for Insurance for Owners of Motorized Fishing Vessels” to offer fishermen even more at-sea protection. In 2012 a total of 4289 insured craft benefitted.

  To further provide protection for the livelihoods of fishermen, on the basis of regulations governing compensation to be paid in the event of harm to fishermen or fishing vessels, fishermen can apply for compensation if, as a result of fire or of irresistible forces during at-sea operation, it is impossible to continue operations. Amounts depend on the tonnage or class of the vessel. Compensation was paid out for 27 vessels in 2012.

Livestock insurance

  Based on the Agricultural Development Act and the Livestock Insurance Regulations, the livestock 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, improves the image of the industry, and raises consumer confidence in domestic pork.

  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 and even offshore islands). In 2012, a total of 8,650,178 heads were insured. Of these, 8,629,257 were hogs and 20,921 were dairy cows. The program has not only won strong support from farmers, it has effectively prevented illegal sale of carcasses: In the entire year there was only a single case of illegal sale of a livestock carcass.

Building a modernized market information system

  The COA has adapted information and communications technology to build an automatic notification-broadcast system to disseminate agricultural information. This will improve the allocation of agricultural resources, keep farmers up-to-date on new regulations or policies, and improve the quality of our services to citizens. Tasks include:

 Building a platform for automatic transmission of agricultural information via fax, text messaging, and e-mail: Using these channels the COA can issue up-to-the-minute information that is critical to rural citizens in their daily lives, such as transaction price indices, production forecasts, plant disease warnings, news on government policies and social welfare benefits, and so on. In 2012, we sent out, on our own initiative, 663,644 emails, 376,379 text messages, and 24,852 faxes, serving a total of 1.06 million persons.

 Construction of “digital signage” at 430 operational locations of farmers’ and fishermen’s associations across the country: Digital signage allows the COA to directly broadcast to rural residents, providing production and marketing information and showing programs about agriculture-related topics that capture the warmth of country life. Each year we broadcast 1,255,600 hours, with a total volume of 17,243 terabytes of information, and a total of 3,201,780 viewer/reader hours.