Farmers nationwide protest target rice price

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Farmers nationwide protest target rice price

Farmers have started protesting in Seoul and other parts of the country against the latest agreement between the ruling and opposition parties on the new target price for the rice subsidy program.

The leadership of the Korea Peasants League, one of the largest farmers’ associations in the country, started rallying Monday at the Democratic Party headquarters. The farmers said that they want the largest opposition party to make its stance clear on the rice subsidy program and join in their fight.

The Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans and Fisheries Committee of the National Assembly approved a plan Monday to increase the target price for rice to 188,000 won ($179.17) from the current 170,083 won for 80 kilograms (176 pounds). The ruling Saenuri Party and the main opposition Democratic Party agreed that the target price will be applied for the next five years and used for the government’s rice subsidy program.

If the producers’ rice price falls below the target, the government will make up 85 percent of the difference in the subsidy program. In addition, rice farmers will also receive up to 850,127 won per hectare annually from the government through the rice subsidy program, regardless of profits or losses. Under the program, 790,000 farmers will receive a yearly average of 880,000 won for planting rice.

Until now, the government, political parties and farmers had struggled to find a new target price. The government proposed 179,686 won and the Democratic Party proposed 195,901 won, while the farmers have demanded 230,000 won.

“Over the past eight years, the target price for the rice subsidy has been frozen, and we have staged street protests in front of the National Assembly over a month to rationalize it,” said the Korea Peasants League in a statement posted on its website.

Since the leadership of the Korea Peasants League occupied the Democratic headquarters on Monday, more members from the group’s South Jeolla chapter began protests yesterday at the offices of DP Representatives Kim Seung-nam and Lee Nak-yon.

The group’s North Jeolla chapter also started a demonstration in front of the office of DP Representative Choi Kyu-sung, chairman of the Agricultural Committee. Other members also occupied offices of the Saenuri lawmakers on the committee.

BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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