Ban on Slaughter of Poultry at Traditional Markets Postponed

TAIWAN - The government is expected to postpone a ban on poultry vendors slaughtering live chickens and ducks at the traditional markets originally planned to go in effect on 1 April, according to Legislator Ting Shou-chung of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT).
calendar icon 18 March 2008
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Ting said the plan could be shelved because the government has not yet worked out adequate complementary measures to enforce the policy.

He made the remarks after holding a coordination meeting of poultry raisers, vendors, and officials from the Council of Agriculture (COA).

The ban on slaughtering live chickens and ducks right in front of the eyes of customers at the traditional markets was planned as part of various measures to be taken by the government to prevent and control the highly pathogenic bird flu virus.

Although the government has been encouraging poultry vendors to stop the practice, there are still a portion of consumers, who shun frozen chicken and insist on buying only "warm" poultry -- newly slaughtered chickens or ducks that do not go through a chilling or freezing process.

Such customers normally stay away from imported poultry products and locally produced poultry meats that are chilled or frozen.

Ting said the enforcement of the ban will leave the butchering business to just a few conglomerates that run the modern slaughterhouses on the island.

But the policy will affect the livelihoods of around 300,000 poultry vendors throughout Taiwan if the government fails to solve their problems, including providing new jobs, Ting said.

He said poultry vendors and officials have built a strong consensus on issues relating to operations like quarantine, sanitation, public health and consumers' rights.

But poultry vendors insisted that a "no-slaughter policy" should only be implemented after the government has come up with adequate measures.

Ting also pointed out that poultry farmers, who are mostly scattered around the island, will pose separate problems if they come under control of the slaughterhouses also.

Their problems should also be addressed by the government, he said.

Hu Fu-hsiung, vice COA chairman, admitted at the meeting that the government has not yet worked out any auxiliary measures that will go along with the ban and address problems to be faced by poultry farmers and vendors.

Ahead of the April 1 target date, the Executive Yuan will hold a coordination meeting of all related government agencies on March 26 to make a final decision on the issue, Hu said.

According to analysts, the poultry vendors still maintain certain political clout considering the number of people who make a living on poultry business.

They are estimated to total at least one million ballots in the presidential election to be held this Saturday.

The last thing Premier Chang Chun-hsiung and his ruling Democratic Progressive Party would do is force poultry vendors out of business before giving them assistance to develop new careers, the analysts said.

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