[EDITORIALS]Rice: Time to move onThe National Assembly has passed a government motion that would ratify the administration’s agreement with rice exporting countries to raise the quota of Korea’s rice imports in return for another 10- year delay in a flat tariff system.
This has provided an official framework of delaying the opening of the country’s rice market completely to the outside for another 10 years. It’s extremely fortunate that despite opposition by some lawmakers and protests by farmers, the motion was passed through a democratic process and that the issue was resolved within this year.
If the motion had been blocked again, pressure to open up the rice market would have been increased while our country would have been singled out as a country that cannot keep its promises, effectively isolating us on the international stage and diminshing international trust toward our country.
The motion cannot satisfy all farmers, but since it has passed the National Assembly, there is a need to accept reality. Farmers need to calm down and think about what they can do in the next 10 years to improve the competitiveness of the agricultural sector.
Those politicians that opposed the motion should stop chanting incendiary slogans and think about how to help the farmers. If there is another heated debate regarding the passge of the motion in the National Assembly, it will only result in losing justification and actual benefits.
We believe that despite some farmers’ strong opposition to the bill, many understand that opening up the rice market is an inevitable matter for which they have to prepare. There could be arguments that government support to prepare for what is to come is lacking. Nevertheless, the government has promised to spend 119 trillion won ($114 billion) over the next ten years in support of the agricultural sector.
In addition, in the aftermath of the passage of the motion, the government has also agreed to 20 requests put forward by farmers. Some additional support measures can be resolved through rational discussions.
What is left now is for the government and farmers to cooperate and find ways so that the rural community can live well even after the rice market has opened up to the outside world.
The time has come for farmers to get rid of their passive attitude, waiting for government support and always asking for it while failing to do anything on their own. One has to remember that government support is not free and comes from other taxpayers’ money.