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New US pork rules a boon to farmers

New US pork rules a boon to farmers

UNINTENDED EFFECT: While the US hoped to boost its pork exports when Taiwan changed its ractopamine policy, demand for Taiwanese pork rose while US imports plummeted

By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter

Taiwan’s pork prices have risen to a 10-year-high since the government began allowing the importation of US pork containing ractopamine residue in January, a benefit that pig farmers have reaped after the policy was implemented, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said yesterday.

Chen made the remarks at a meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee, where he briefed lawmakers about the council’s budget for the next fiscal year.

However, lawmakers are concerned about the consequences if people vote to ban the import of pork products containing ractopamine residue in a referendum on Dec. 18.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said that the result could affect Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-Peng (鄭運鵬) said that the Taiwan’s exports of agricultural products from January to September grew 16.8 percent, adding that exports to the US rose 38 percent during the same period.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s imports of pork from other countries dropped 3.5 percent since January, while imports of US pork products were down 74.8 percent, Cheng said.

“The US neither asked for a guaranteed procurement quantity for US pork nor reciprocal purchases. Pig farmers in Taiwan, on the other hand, received more than NT$10 billion [US$359.1 million] in government subsidies to bolster the pig farming industry,” he added.

The government had stipulated supplementary measures before it allowed the import of pork from ractopamine-fed pigs, such as that the animal feed additive must not exceed a maximum residue limit, Chen said, adding that the country of origin must also be clearly labeled on pork and pork products.

“Our data have shown that the demand for domestically produced pork is on the rise, with the self-sufficiency rate for Taiwanese pork growing from 90 percent to 93 percent. The pork price has also reached a 10-year high, and pig farmers have benefited from the policy,” Chen said.

“If people vote to oppose the import of pork containing ractopamine residue in the referendum at the end of the year, it would not only affect trade relations between Taiwan and the US, but it would also affect Taiwan’s application to join the CPTPP and subsequently hurt the nation’s economic development,” Chen said, adding that he would use weekends to travel around the nation to explain to people why the policy would create a favorable condition for Taiwan to join the trade agreement.

Chen also told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting that the council would do everything it could to stabilize the supply of agricultural products amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as per instructions from the Presidential Office and the Executive Yuan.

A report published on Oct. 8 by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics showed that the consumer price index in September rose 3.31 percent, the highest percentage increase in the past three years. Pork was up 7.75 percent, the highest rise in the past six-and-a-half years.

“The national average transaction price for domestic pork was about NT$75 per kilogram in the past few months. The average prices for broilers, native chickens and eggs have been stable as well,” Chen said.

 source: Taipei Times