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Taiwan invests big in pork industry

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Premier Su Tseng-chang received a Council of Agriculture briefing Thursday on the upgrading of the pork industry and the establishment of a demonstration system for meat cold chains. Since Taiwan opened its market to U.S. pork imports earlier this year, residues of the feed additive ractopamine have not been detected in pork imports from any country, while consumption of domestic pork has increased 6,000 metric tons compared with last year. To make the pork industry more competitive, the government will invest nearly NT$13 billion (US$458.9 million) in a pork industry fund over the next four years to assist with issues ranging from pork farming facilities and transportation vehicles to slaughterhouses, entire cold chains and meat stall temperature control. These efforts will ensure the health of Taiwanese consumers while upgrading and making hog farms more eco-friendly and efficient, the premier said.

Since the lifting of pork import restrictions in January, government and businesses have implemented clear country-of-origin labeling and border control measures. Presently all pork imports that come through customs are inspected by the batch. So far no ractopamine has been found in the imports, and domestically produced pork products still account for 92 percent of the market. This demonstrates that consumer confidence in Taiwan's pork products remains unaffected by the market opening policy.

The public's confidence in and demand for Taiwan pork have not declined but rather increased, thanks to Taiwan's achievements in keeping African swine fever out of the country, its success in earning recognition as a country free of foot-and-mouth disease where vaccination is not practiced, and now the resumption of pork exports to other nations. A government objective now is to upgrade pig farms to be more environmentally friendly and efficient, so that cleaner and high-quality feed are used throughout the entire swine breeding and husbandry process, premier Su said.

The government wants to increase the competitiveness of the hog-farming industry, raise the quality of domestically produced pork, lower the industry's impact on the environment, and expand exports of pork products, Premier Su said. Last month saw the approval of a four-year, NT$13 billion program aimed at applying the "national team" concept to comprehensively transform and upgrade Taiwan's pork industry in response to trade liberalization. Specific measures include regulations at the source and production controls to stabilize prices within a reasonable range. Compulsory insurance covering animal mortality will also be implemented with insurance premium subsidies to lower costs for hog farmers.

To encourage cleaner operations at hog farms, subsidies will also be provided for updating animal pens and pollution control facilities, said the premier. The establishment of a slaughterhouse refrigeration plant, subsidies for climate-control equipment in transportation and shipping vehicles, and a push for upgraded temperature control equipment at traditional retail butchers will all be pursued. On the export front, the government is actively negotiating export conditions and procedures with other countries to expand foreign markets for domestic enterprises. Grants and subsidies to promote overseas sales are also on offer to boost annual export growth above 20 percent.

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