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Published September 14, 2011, 02:29 AM

Ministry studying subsidies for farmland sellers, lenders

TOKYO— Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano said Tuesday his ministry has been studying the feasibility of providing subsidies for farmers who sell or lend their land to younger farmers seeking to expand their operations.

Ministry studying subsidies for farmland sellers, lenders

TOKYO— Japan's Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Michihiko Kano said Tuesday his ministry has been studying the feasibility of providing subsidies for farmers who sell or lend their land to younger farmers seeking to expand their operations.

The measure is effectively intended to urge small-scale farmers to retire from agriculture and encourage younger-generation farmers to expand their management scale and improve efficiency.

Kano told a news conference that his ministry will now help farmland sellers and lenders, noting that it is not sufficient to help only buyers or borrowers.

The farm ministry plans to seek necessary funds for the project in a supplementary budget for fiscal 2011, the third extra budget for the current year, to be worked out later this year, ministry officials said.

It plans to first launch the scheme for areas devastated by the March 11 earthquake-tsunami disaster as part of efforts to promote reconstruction and farm reforms in the disaster-stricken areas.

The farm ministry will expand the measure to areas across the country in fiscal 2012 starting April 1 that year.

It will seek funds for the fiscal 2012 budget to launch the new scheme across the country.

Currently, the average Japanese farm size is quite small, at around 2 hectares, or 20,000 square meters. In addition, many small-scale farmers are of advanced age.

Japan is required to expand the size of farming and to strengthen its agriculture's international competition, the officials said.

In August, a government panel on agriculture issued a report which calls for substantially expanding farming scale with the aim of realizing an agricultural structure where management entities with 20 to 30 hectares of farmland, in the case of flat land areas, and 10 to 20 hectares, in the case of hilly and mountainous areas, are the majority.

In the current fiscal year, the farm ministry provides 20,000 yen per 10 ares, or 1,000 square meters, of farmland in subsidies to farmers who borrow farmland to expand their operations.

In fiscal 2012, the ministry plans to provide such subsidies to individual sellers and lenders of farmland and organizations which act as intermediaries between sellers or lenders and borrowers or buyers, the officials said.

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