The Diet has enacted a bill to consolidate small and scattered plots of farmland to boost the agricultural sector’s competitiveness.
The Upper House passed the bill late Thursday by a majority vote with support from parties including the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito. The bill cleared the Lower House late last month.
Under the new law, prefectural governments will set up “farmland banks.” These entities will borrow pieces of farmland from such owners as retiring farmers and people who have abandoned farming to live elsewhere, and consolidate and lease them to large-scale farmers and new entrants in agriculture.
The government will earmark some funds for the farmland bank program in an upcoming supplementary budget so it can launch the program before this fiscal year ends in March.
Since the Abe administration is moving to promote competition in agriculture through such policies as ending rice acreage control subsidies, aging farmers are expected to put their farmland into the banks’ hands.