Rice subsidies for big players only?

Kyodo

The Abe administration and ruling bloc are planning to make large-scale farms the only recipients of rice subsidies as a way to improve the efficiency of the agricultural sector ahead of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, officials said Friday.

They are considering using rice acreage as a yardstick to limit the number of recipients and reduce subsidies, the officials said.

The administration plans to submit a bill to make this change next year, they said.

“It is not wrong to integrate farms to reduce production costs and raise profit for farmers,” Finance Minister Taro Aso told a news conference. “The direction of reducing subsidies is not wrong for this country.”

At the day’s meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party, some participants called for creating a mechanism to enlarge farms and improve productivity, LDP officials said.

When the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan expanded subsidies to farmers, the LDP criticized it as pork-barrel spending.

“Based on the criticism, we will discuss reforms,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said at a news conference. “We would like to promote a reform to allow farmers to produce products to meet demand under their own judgment.”