RIETI Report March 2014

Why Must Only Farmers' Income be Guaranteed? The reason why government repeatedly addresses only farmers' income

Whenever there is an attempt to change agricultural policy, the question of farmers' income inevitably presents a problem. The government does not provide national funds to economically vulnerable persons such as non-regular workers and owners of small and medium-size stores in streets filled with shuttered businesses, however, farmers alone, including part-timers who work office or factory jobs during the week and only farm on the weekends, are given money raised by taxes to ensure that they have enough income. Why are farmers alone a special case? In the March issue of the RIETI Report, we present the column "Why Must Only Farmers' Income be Guaranteed? The reason why government repeatedly addresses only farmers' income" written by Senior Fellow Kazuhito Yamashita.

The Japanese people have been detached from farming, and they have a conceptual and standardized vision of farming and rural communities from what was learned in their school education, books, and dramas whereby nearly everyone in the rural communities is a farmer, is poor, and toils in rice cultivation. Yamashita shows that this is not the case, as small farmers are wealthy because of their multiple income streams with their office or factory jobs and weekend farming. He discusses the political clout that the farmers and the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives have with the politicians and looks back at the development of agriculture in Japan in the 20th century, both of which have led to the situation we see today. Finally, Yamashita talks about the necessity of agriculture policy, and reflects on the practical thoughts of previous Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce officials and how they are still relevant to this day.

This month's featured article

Why Must Only Farmers' Income be Guaranteed? The reason why government repeatedly addresses only farmers' income

YAMASHITA KazuhitoSenior Fellow, RIETI

Whenever the government and ruling parties try to change agricultural policy, the question of farmers' income inevitably presents a problem. It is never the government's policy to give national funds to raise the income of economically vulnerable persons such as non-regular workers and owners of small and medium-size stores in streets filled with shuttered businesses. Farmers alone, on the other hand, including part-timers who work office or factory jobs during the week and only farm on the weekends, are given money raised by taxes to ensure that they have enough income. Now, the government and ruling parties are discussing changes to Japan's acreage reduction policies. This debate too has raised the question of what will happen to farmers' income and what specifically can be done to raise it. There are systems in place to provide welfare benefits to the needy. Isn't this enough? Why are farmers alone a special case?

To read the full text
http://www.rieti.go.jp/en/special/policy-update/052.html

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