減反見直し 政治主導で競争力強化を図れ

The Yomiuri Shimbun October 31, 2013
Politicians must take initiatives to boost competitiveness of Japan’s agriculture
減反見直し 政治主導で競争力強化を図れ(10月30日付・読売社説)

Strengthening the competitiveness of Japan’s agricultural sector is an urgent task in preparation for trade liberalization. A shift is necessary in this nation’s agricultural policy to place importance on core farmers.
 貿易自由化に備え、農業の競争力強化が急務である。中核農家を重視した農業政策への転換が求められよう。

The government and ruling parties have started reviewing the rice production adjustment system, or rice acreage reduction, with an eye toward possibly abolishing it. Under the system, the government sets yield targets and allocates them to farmers.
 政府・与党は、コメの生産目標を国が定め、農家に割り当てる生産調整(減反)制度の段階的な見直しに着手した。廃止も視野に検討する。

The rice acreage reduction policy is aimed at ensuring stable incomes for farmers by curbing rice production to prevent rice prices from falling due to oversupply. The policy was fully introduced in the 1970s to address surplus rice production.
 減反は、コメの生産量を抑えることで価格の低下を防ぎ、農家の収入を安定させる狙いがある。コメ余りを背景に、1970年代に本格的に導入された。

However, high rice prices triggered a vicious circle, accelerating a shift away from rice consumption, thereby causing farmland to shrink. The government maintained its agricultural policy, which generously protected even small-scale farmers. This discouraged core farmers to produce the grain, reducing the vitality of Japan’s agriculture.
 だが、割高なコメ価格がコメ離れを加速し、農地が縮小するという悪循環を招いた。零細農家も手厚く保護される農政を続け、中核農家の生産意欲を減退させ、農業の活力を奪ってきたと言える。

If the rice acreage reduction policy is reviewed, motivated farmers will decide on production volume on their own, by carefully assessing such factors as market trends and consumer preference, without being hampered by state-set targets. An improvement in productivity can also be expected.
 減反が見直されると、意欲的な農家は国の目標に縛られず、市場動向や消費者の好みを見極め、生産量を独自に決める。生産性の向上も期待できよう。

Negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade framework are fully under way. If Japan is pressured to further liberalize its markets, competition against imported agricultural products will intensify. We believe it is appropriate to encourage farmers to make efforts to improve their business management through the opening up of large-scale farming via the rice acreage reduction policy review.
 環太平洋経済連携協定(TPP)交渉が本格化している。日本が一層の市場開放を迫られれば輸入農産物との競争は激化する。減反見直しで大規模化に道を開き、農家の経営努力を促すのは適切だ。

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to review the policy apparently because the next national election is not expected for up to nearly three years. In 2009, then Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Shigeru Ishiba also supported reforming the policy of cutting back rice paddies, but was unable to realize it due to opposition from agricultural organizations and some Liberal Democratic Party members.
 安倍政権が見直しに踏み込むのは、国政選挙まで最大3年近く時間があるからだろう。2009年にも、当時の石破農相が減反改革を唱えたが、農業団体や自民党内の反発で実現しなかった。

Alleviate concerns

Some observers strongly believe that if the acreage reduction policy is abolished, rice prices will fall sharply due to increased production. Opposition against the policy review is smoldering, with some saying it will result in a decrease in the income of farmers and in fact diminish the competitiveness of this nation’s agriculture.
 減反を廃止すれば、生産量が増えて米価が急落するとの見方は根強い。「収益が下がり、かえって農業の競争力が低下する」といった反対論がくすぶっている。

To alleviate these concerns and keep the negative effects of the policy change to a minimum, it would be beneficial to take measures to mitigate the impact, including introducing a transition period and phasing out subsidies to farmers who participate in the rice acreage reduction program.
 こうした不安を和らげ、打撃を最小限に抑えるには、一定の移行期間を設け、減反に協力する農家への補助金を段階的に減らす激変緩和策が有益だろう。

Also, the income guarantee system for individual farmers that was introduced when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power should be reviewed immediately. The system provides subsidies to farmers who reduce the size of their rice paddies. If this system is maintained, small-scale farmers will refuse to give up their farmland in order to receive the subsidy, which goes against the policy of promoting large-scale farming.
 直ちに見直すべきなのは、民主党政権が導入した戸別所得補償制度である。減反農家へ一律に補助金を支給するもので、これを継続すると、零細農家が補助金を目当てに農地を手放さず、大規模化を目指す政策と矛盾するからだ。

The government should stop providing such subsidies and instead introduce a system to provide robust support for core farmers with high productivity.
 一律支給をやめ、生産性の高い中核農家を重点的に支援する仕組みに改めてもらいたい。

The LDP is also discussing a new system to support farming villages in mountainous areas, among other places, in the name of preserving national land. Although regional development and environmental conservation are important, some ingenuity is necessary in designing the system that does not become a simple handout policy.
 自民党は、「国土保全」を名目に山間地などの農村を支援する新制度も検討中だ。地域振興や環境保全は大切だが、バラマキとならぬよう制度設計に工夫が要る。

The Abe administration has identified agriculture as a new growth industry. In addition to reviewing the rice acreage reduction policy, the government also must speed up measures to reinvigorate Japan’s agriculture through political leadership, including deregulation aimed at encouraging companies to enter the agricultural sector.
 安倍政権は農業を新たな成長産業と位置付けている。減反見直しに加え、企業参入を促す規制緩和など、政治主導で農業の活性化策を加速しなければならない。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 30, 2013)
(2013年10月30日01時25分 読売新聞)
[PR]

by kiyoshimat | 2013-11-01 07:23 | 英字新聞

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