Political entity of farmers in Fukuoka Prefecture asked agriculture minister Yoshimasa Hayashi in Fukuoka on Tuesday, Feb. 11, to protect key agricultural products, including rice, wheat and dairy products, from tariff elimination in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks.
The TPP member countries are scheduled to hold a ministerial meeting starting on Saturday, Feb. 22, and the farmers urged that the government follow the resolutions adopted by the agricultural committees of the upper and lower houses of the Diet.
10 executives of agricultural groups invited Hayashi to their meeting to make requests regarding the TPP negotiations and the government’s new agricultural policies. Masaji Matsuyama, an upper house lawmaker from Fukuoka, also attended the meeting.
Hirofumi Kurashige, vice chairman of the agricultural cooperative group in Fukuoka, stressed that the resolutions made by the Liberal Democratic Party and the agricultural committees of the Diet in March and April last year are the pledges politicians made to the Japanese people and farmers. Kurashige demanded that if it is not possible to meet the resolutions in the TPP talks, the government must acknowledge that the TPP scheme would go against national interests and withdraw from the negotiations immediately.
Referring to the new agricultural policies to be implemented in fiscal 2014, Yuji Hayashi, head of the political entity of farmers in Fukuoka, criticized the fact that some members of the government’s Regulatory Reform Council have suggested abolishing direct payments to farmers and subsidies offered to those who limit rice production in line with the government’s policy. If the government is really serious about strengthening the nation’s agriculture, it should introduce policies which can be applied flexibly according to different situations in each region, instead of reducing subsidies across the board, he said. He also said the people in the agricultural industry should be allowed to participate in the policymaking process.
(Feb. 12, 2014)