he Agricultural Production and Certification Act (APCA) was promulgated by the President on January 29, 2007. From 2011 through 2014 there were a number of incidents in Taiwan related to things like food sanitation and safety and inaccurate labeling, drawing concern from across society. The Council of Agriculture (COA), in order to continue to enhance agricultural products safety and quality, complete construction of a traceability system and three-tiered quality control system, and comprehensively review and improve production management for agricultural products, drafted amendments to the APCA. On December 25 of 2019 an amended text of the APCA, with 38 articles, was promulgated by the President. Besides Article 18, governing registration of primary processing facilities for agricultural products, which took effect from the day of promulgation, the remaining articles are to take effect one year after promulgation. The new Act is aimed at protecting the health of citizens and the rights and interests of consumers.
Announcing an appropriate labeling and certification system for agricultural products, creating a sound management system
The existing Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS) system for premium agricultural products and the Traceable Agricultural Products (TAP) certification system have been in place for a number of years, and the brand image of these labels has earned the trust and support of agricultural product operators and consumers. The COA gave priority to announcing that the rights and interests of those who have received CAS or TAP certification will not be affected by the amended APCA. The COA will continue to refine agricultural product certification systems to strengthen the management, quality, and safety of agricultural product production and ensure consumer confidence and farmers’ incomes.
Promoting third-party accreditation and getting in line with international standards, with the government responsible for supervision and management
To implement the separate operations of legally-mandated management and certification systems, a third-party certification system has been adopted in line with international approaches to agricultural product labeling and certification. Moreover, a three-tiered quality control system is being implemented. Accreditation of agricultural product certification bodies has been turned over to private bodies that participate in International Accreditation Forums and have signed Multilateral Recognized Agreements in the field of product certification. The government, meanwhile, is responsible for supervision and management. The COA has researched and drafted the “Regulations for Approving and Supervising Certified Agricultural Accreditation Bodies,” promoting third-party accreditation and certification in line with international practices, while the government is responsible for supervision and management and no longer needs to handle the work of accreditation bodies, making the division of powers and responsibilities between the public and private sectors more clear.
Promoting an agricultural product traceability system to strengthen the responsibility of agricultural product operators
To increase the market share of traceable agricultural products, protect consumers’ right to know, strengthen the responsibility of agricultural product operators, and promote “local production, local consumption” and the differentiation of imported and domestic agricultural products, the amended APCA includes rules for agricultural product traceability systems and adds penalty provisions. Moreover, it authorizes the central competent authority, when necessary, to require the provision of legally stipulated traceability data for specified agricultural products or agricultural product operators of a certain scale as announced by the central competent authority. Through data provided on agricultural product production and traceability platforms established by the government, consumers can search for immediate information and report problems in real time, and they can work together with the government to ensure food safety. The goals are to strengthen traceability management of agricultural products, and enhance the self-management responsibility of producers, while also providing consumers with peace of mind and protecting their rights and interests.
Building a registration system for primary processing facilities for agricultural products, enhancing production standards and advancing consumer trust
It is difficult for small farmers to get factory registration for primary processing of agricultural products, which makes it impossible for these products to go on sale in sales channels. To solve this problem, the COA has adopted the principle of graded management, and has incorporated the management of agricultural product primary processing facilities into the amended APCA. The COA has constructed a registration system for such primary processing facilities, in hopes of guiding these facilities to conform to food safety and sanitation management regulations, thereby enhancing production standards and advancing consumer trust. It is estimated that the annual production value of processed agricultural products can be increased by roughly NT$2 billion, and the volume of processed agricultural products can be raised to 75,000 metric tons per year. These steps will facilitate stabilization of production and consumption and increase the overall production value of the agricultural sector.