農發條例政策轉彎,國土長遠規劃堪慮

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2000 / 1月

文‧張靜茹 圖‧薛繼光


事關台灣農業永續發展與農民生計的「農業發展條例修正草案」,在民國八十八年底送入立法院前,造成了農委會主委彭作奎辭職、朝野爭議、農民抗議遊行。草案中關於「新購農地不得興建農舍」的條文,則是引燃這次風波的主角。


去年十一月三十日夜晚,農委會主委彭作奎突然向行政院長蕭萬長遞出辭呈。引發彭作奎辭職的原因,在於行政院「農業發展條例修正草案」即將送進立法院審查,草案中針對「新購農地不得興建農舍」的規定,卻仍無法得到各方支持,除立法院老農派立委表示將反對到底,國民黨政策會亦已提出「黨版」農發條例,將同意新購農地得以興建農舍。彭作奎自認無法達成政策理念,遂決定以個人去留表明維護農地的決心。

為因應未來加入世界貿易組織(WTO)後對農業的衝擊,農地開放自由買賣已成大勢所趨,一般認為如此農村才能朝大規模機械化、科技化生產,以增加競爭力。民國八十四年行政院已通過「農地釋出方案」,其中基於放寬農地自由買賣及農地分割面積提高後,若同意農民在農地四處興建農舍,將影響放寬農地自由買賣後、耕作面積可以擴大的原意,四處散落的農村別墅還可能破壞農業生態環境,造成水電、道路等公共投資的浪費,此舉也可能造成財團假借農民之義炒作農地。農委會因此在新版農發條例中,僅准許農民在原有農地上興建農舍,以保障農民權益,至於新承購的農地原則上禁建,只允許有條件的以集村方式興建農舍。

但在農民及農會眼中,此項規定等於扼殺農村生機。農民認為新購農地禁建將導致農地買賣與地價停滯;加上長期來許多農會以農地為抵押,逾期放款,如果農地流通不良、價格挫低,正如一位農會總幹事說的,農地不准蓋農舍,全省一半的農會恐怕要倒閉。支持農民的立法院長王金平也表示,開放農地全面興建農舍才有購地的誘因,否則民眾為何要買農地?

十二月七日台灣省農會動員二十一縣市農會代表數千人集結中正紀念堂,表達「開放農舍,農民有救」的立場。時任農委會副主委的林享能則率領同仁走入群眾,表示農委會將堅持政院版的農發條例,但隨後他也說出政院版本「不是不能改」。十二月八日林享能正式升任主委,被各界認為行政院政策已經鬆動。

另一方面,學界與環保團體也紛紛出現支援彭作奎的聲音。交通大學人文社會科學院院長陳其南就指出,台灣農業在加入WTO後已無利可圖,從少數人用心就可以看出,買農地不是為了經營農業,而是為了投入建築業,因此農地興建農舍的真正受益人將不會是農民。以中研院院長李遠哲為首的一百多位學者也連署,希望此一條文可以延至總統大選後再議。

就連部分建築業人士與農民本身也不看好開放興建農舍。據瞭解,對於有炒作價值的農地改建,有辦法的建商早已將之合法化,若開放農地買賣又准予興建農舍,只會讓農地供過於求,使得本來就低迷的房地產雪上加霜。北部地區農會總幹事也聯合召開記者會表示,現在農地違規蓋工廠製造污染都取締不了,開放後又如何取締?政府不應為了中南部農會的逾放問題,做出不利於農業發展的政策。

至於立院,雖有多位立委反對農村過度開發破壞環境,並指出國民黨在為選舉變相綁樁,但在總統大選的顧慮下,卻都沒有太大的動作。

其實整個「農業發展條例」共有八章、一百多條法規,關心層面除涉及農地自由買賣,也包括未來因應國際貿易自由化後整體農業相關事宜,牽涉極為廣泛。可惜「新購農地可否興建農舍」成為社會焦點,其他議題卻無緣得到媒體青睞與社會討論,草案也在送入立院後初審過關,只有興建農舍條文將留到二讀後再加以討論。

從長遠來看,台灣農業發展有不同的歷史階段與考量,如今除顧及農民生計,也牽涉加入WTO和國家安全、國家定位等戰略考量,因此農民的利益和國家整體利益如何兼顧,需要各界充分討論與政府建立公平制度加以仲裁。而政策若需要農業背負生活、生態、生產責任,就不該讓農民承擔一切責任,應有相對的補救措施。可惜新購農地能否興建農舍的辯論,已變成不同利益團體的直接抗爭,農地政策的焦點集中在農舍問題,也讓整個農業發展條例的精神無法「講清楚、說明白」,這不只是農民的悲哀,更是所有台灣人的悲哀。    

p.46

「新購農地不得興建農舍」的規定,引發了上個月的兩次農民抗爭。

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近期文章

EN

Revised Agricultural Development Act Sparks Controversy

Chang Chin-ju /tr. by Christopher MacDonald

By the time it arrived for review in the legislature at the end of 1999, The Agricultural Development Act Amendment Bill-which provides for sustainable agricultural development and the ecological protection of agricultural land-had already sparked political conflict and street protests, and led to the resignation of Council of Agriculture chairman Peng Tso-kuei. The source of the controversy was Article 16 of the bill, which forbids the construction of housing on newly purchased farmland.


On November 30, in the evening, Council of Agriculture (COA) chairman Peng Tso-kuei suddenly tendered his resignation. Peng chose to resign because of controversy over a provision banning house-construction on newly purchased farmland, part of the Agricultural Development Act Amendment Bill, which was due for reading in the Legislative Yuan. The legislature's pro-farming faction remained staunchly opposed to the provision, and the KMT's policy committee had already drafted a "caucus version" of the amendment, allowing for houses to be built on newly acquired farmland. Faced with the frustration of his policy objectives and wishing to express his commitment to the principle of protecting agricultural land, Peng Tso-kuei resigned.

The opening up of the agricultural property market is understood to be inevitable, given the impact of Taiwan's eventual accession to the WTO, and it is generally felt that this is the only way to encourage large-scale mechanization of farm production and the introduction of new technology, so as to boost the competitiveness of the island's agricultural sector. In 1995 the Executive Yuan launched the Farmland Release Program, easing restrictions on the sale and purchase of farmland, but significant revisions to the program were then introduced under the Agricultural Development Act, which aimed to preserve farmland for agricultural use and deal with the related matters of rural development and farmers' welfare. It was felt that if farmers were able to build wherever they wanted on rural land-which was now easier to subdivide and sell-this would encourage harmful over-development. At the same time, the unregulated construction of houses among the fields could create environmental problems and put a needless burden on public funds for the installation of utility services and access roads. In the COA's revised version of the Agricultural Development Act, therefore, new houses can be built on land that farmers already own (which protects their interests), but not on newly acquired farmland, except under certain conditions allowing for the development of community-style settlements.

On December 7, the Taiwan Provincial Farmers' Association organized a rally at the CKS Memorial Hall in Taipei, attended by several thousand representatives of farmers' associations from throughout Taiwan. Their demand: "Save the Farmers, Allow Farmhouse Construction." Along with a couple of dozen colleagues, COA deputy chairman Lin Hsiang-neng mingled with the crowd, explaining that the amendment bill was the product of extensive discussions with experts and insisting that the COA would stick to its position. But Lin was later quoted as saying that the government's version of the bill was "not unrevisable." On December 8, Lin was officially promoted to the post vacated by Peng Tso-kuei, encouraging the perception that the Executive Yuan would now be more flexible on the issue.

Peng's stance has, however, drawn support from academics and environmental groups. Chen Chi-nan, dean of the school of humanities and social science at National Chiao Tung University, points out that it will become even harder to make a living from farming once Taiwan joins the WTO. As the intentions of some of those lobbying against the bill reveal, farmland is no longer being bought for the purpose of farming, but rather for development. In other words, farm workers themselves are not likely to be the beneficiaries of any new "farmhouses" built on agricultural land. Over 100 academics, headed by Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh, have now signed a joint letter calling for discussion of the offending provision in the bill to be deferred until after the presidential election.

The interesting thing is that even the construction industry is pessimistic about the benefits of freeing up agricultural land for new homes. It is said that those firms able to obtain farmland and have it re-zoned for housing, as a way of jacking up its value, have already done so. The further opening up of farmland for housing would therefore create an over-supply, and further undermine the already depressed property market. Opposition to the move has also been heard among segments of the farming community itself. The general secretaries of farmers' associations from Northern Taiwan held a joint press conference at which they noted that it is already difficult enough trying to crack down on pollution produced by factories built illegally on farmland, and this can only get harder once more land is freed up for development. In their opinion, the government shouldn't introduce policies harmful to agricultural development simply to help farmers' associations in the south and center of the island that are burdened by overdue loans.

A number of legislators opposed on environmental grounds to overdevelopment of the countryside, have said the KMT wants to scrap the provision so as to appease influential grassroots supporters, but with the election looming, none have taken any action.

The Agricultural Development Act Amendment Bill has eight chapters comprising over 100 provisions, and in addition to opening up the market for agricultural land it also includes a raft of measures designed for dealing with the increased liberalization of international trade. Unfortunately, public attention has been focused on the question of the development of newly purchased farmland, and the other issues have generated little interest among pundits and the media. The bill passed its first reading in the legislature, with only the house-construction provision being set aside for discussion at the time of the second reading.

Viewed in the longer perspective, different priorities have applied at different phases of Taiwan's agricultural development. At present, it's a question not just of the livelihood of farmers, but also of concerns like joining the WTO, national security and the definition of the nation. So how do farmers' interests weigh against the overall interests of the nation? It's a question that calls for calm discussion by all involved, and the government needs to set up a fair system for mediation among all concerned. But if national policy requires agriculture to be a means of livelihood, a way of protecting the environment, and a source of production, then it's a combined responsibility that shouldn't be left to farmers alone, and for which compensations need to apply. Unfortunately, the debate has turned into a tug-of-war among various interest groups, thereby diverting attention from the real thrust of the bill. This is a pity, not just for farmers but for Taiwan as a whole.

p.46

The proposed banning of house-construction on newly purchased farmland, triggered two farmers' demonstrations during December.

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