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New benefits for agricultural workers boost industry competitiveness

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At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang said that the government's agricultural policies over the past three-plus years to improve the well-being of farm workers, establish a robust environment, and boost agricultural competiveness have yielded impressive results.

The premier's comments followed a Council of Agriculture report on the achievements and future outlook of its agricultural programs.

The administration also launched a series of new policies this January, including payments for farmers who use land for agricultural purposes, incentives for participating in product traceability systems, and an oversight system for early stage processing of agricultural products. These measures allow small farmers to reap higher incomes by producing high value-added goods. The government remains committed to preventing African swine fever (ASF) from entering Taiwan, and will take advantage of opportunities arising from the success of ASF prevention work and from the cessation of Taiwan's foot-and-mouth disease vaccination program. A new industrial park for circular agriculture is also being promoted to improve the operating efficiency of Taiwan's pork industry and expand sales abroad, Premier Su said.

Looking ahead, the government will continue efforts to pass agricultural insurance legislation, build a nationwide cold chain for agricultural products, establish a farmers retirement system, and continue addressing the problem of agricultural labor shortages.

The government's agricultural programs have yielded substantial results in the form of broadened health coverage for those engaged in agriculture, a new workers' compensation program, and an ever-expanding crop insurance scheme to mitigate unforeseen production setbacks, the premier said.

The competitiveness of the nation's agricultural sector also continues to grow, Premier Su continued. The premier cited as examples the EU's lifting of a "yellow card" warning against Taiwan for illegal fishing, as well as Taiwan's entrance into the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement. Furthermore, a new legal framework for promoting organic farming has succeeded in boosting the percentage of goods produced organically to the highest in Asia. The nation's agricultural exports have also increased over the years to reach new highs in both volume and value in 2019, at approximately 2.3 million metric tons and NT$170 billion (US$5.7 billion), respectively.

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