Poultry industry to focus on animal welfare
The government will order changes in the breeding and raising of poultry to focus on “animal welfare” instead of factory farming. Additionally, young people who dedicate themselves to farming will get government subsidies and consulting services. These were two key policies presented by the agriculture ministry to President Moon Jae-in, Wednesday.
In a policy briefing for the President held in Sejong, an administrative city 130 kilometers south of Seoul, Agriculture Minister Kim Young-rok said that the ministry will ensure the safety of eggs and chickens, following the recent scandal of pesticide-contaminated eggs.
“We will seek a paradigm shift in poultry farming, from caged farming to methods which respect animal welfare. We will also strengthen safety controls of poultry products,” the minister said.
From next year, new chicken farms will have to either follow the EU Standard in breeding, which is one chicken per 0.075 square meters, or adopt methods that focus on “animal welfare.”
The measure will be applied to all chicken farms from 2025. Currently floor space about the size of a sheet of A4 paper is provided for each chicken in the factory farming system; and experts have pointed out that the use of pesticides was inevitable. Those designated as “free-range farms,” meanwhile, allow chickens to roam around spacious areas of land.
“To expand free-range farms, we will provide incentives for those switching from factory farming,” Kim said.
From next year, farmers will have to mark eggs to show in which surroundings the chickens were bred. All eggs will have to be collected and sold via egg grading and packing centers.
Creating jobs and attracting young people to rural areas is also a key issue for the ministry. It plans to introduce support packages for young people who want to be farmers. As well as being provided subsidies, land, and consulting services, agricultural corporations will adopt internship programs and startups engaged in bio, high-tech agricultural equipment and health supplement industries will get support in research as well as funding. The ministry also cited the pet industry as a new growth engine that will be nurtured to create more jobs.
The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, meanwhile, said it would focus on rebuilding the shipping industry, which was hit by the collapse of Hanjin Shipping.
It plans to set up the Korea Maritime Corporation, which will support shippers and shipbuilders.
Those switching to environment-friendly ships will get subsidies from 2018. The ministry expects the measure to create demand for around 100 ships. The government will also buy more ships.
It plans to set up the Korea Shipping Partnership among local shipping companies so that they can restructure overlapping routes while developing new ones. The ministry said that a “mega port development plan” will be produced within this year to nurture Busan Port, on top of bolstering infrastructure for a new port in Incheon.
“The marine and fisheries industries form an important pillar of the economy and they are also an industry for the future that enriches regional economies,” Oceans Minister Kim Young-choon said. “We will do our utmost to make Korea a global marine powerhouse.”