新規就農支援 魅力ある産業へ若者呼び込め

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Feb. 24, 2012)
Make farming attractive to young generations
新規就農支援 魅力ある産業へ若者呼び込め(2月23日付・読売社説)

We hope that enticing young generations to the farming industry will be a step to reinvigorate the nation's agriculture.

From fiscal 2012, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry will introduce a new measure to encourage people to enter farming.

It will be the first item to be introduced as part of the government's program for revitalizing the nation's farming industry, which was decided on in autumn with an eye on Japan's entry into talks regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade framework.

The nation's agricultural population has decreased 20 percent in five years to 2.6 million, and it is expected to decrease by another 1 million over the next 10 years.

The accelerated graying of farmers is another cause for concern, as the average age of farmers has reached 66.

It is essential to recruit ambitious people from various regions and industries to develop a robust agriculture industry that can withstand the wave of trade liberalization.


Cash for new farmers

Under the new measure, the government will provide 1.5 million yen annually for up to seven years, including a two-year training period, to people under 45 who wish to begin farming.

Each newcomer can receive a maximum total of 10.5 million yen. The government has secured more than 10 billion yen in the budget for the inaugural year.

The new measure differs from available government support to new farmers, such as providing interest-free loans and subsidizing the purchase of farm machines and tools. The government has taken a decisive step to cover newcomers' expected shortage of income by directly giving them cash.

One of the reasons young people hesitate to become farmers is concern their earnings are likely to be low in the early years.

The government aims to double the number of young people entering farming, now at about 10,000 each year, by easing their anxiety about income.

The model for this new measure is a similar support program introduced in France in the 1970s.

The proportion of farmers aged under 40 doubled in 30 years to 30 percent in that country, according to sources.


Help farmers stand on own feet

The government needs to be careful that the new measure does not end up as a mere handout policy.

The agriculture ministry and local governments need to check on new farmers and give them thorough instruction on how to stand on their own feet in the future.

We hope the ministry and local governments will create an environment in which support for new farmers is effective enough to keep them in the industry.

The important point in increasing the number of new young farmers over the medium and long term is to make the agricultural industry attractive to young generations and make it possible for farmers to profit sufficiently.

The farming industry would become a growth field if farmers and agricultural corporations accelerated their advancement into food processing and marketing. Agriculture should no longer be satisfied to exist in a primary-industry framework and should add elements of secondary and tertiary industries.

There are already successful examples of people who have moved from the information technology, financial and other industries to the farming industry, developing agricultural businesses free from conventional mind-sets.

Such successful people have increased their earning power by producing high-value-added farm products after studying the tastes of customers and finding markets abroad.

We want to urge the agriculture ministry to review various laws, regulations and customs, such as the Agricultural Land Law, which limits corporations' entry into agriculture.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 23, 2012)
(2012年2月23日01時13分 読売新聞)

by kiyoshimat | 2012-02-25 06:33 | 英字新聞

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