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2013年9月25日 (水)

農地管理機構 生産性向上をどう実現するか

The Yomiuri Shimbun September 25, 2013
Government must reform farm sector to improve agricultural productivity
農地管理機構 生産性向上をどう実現するか(9月24日付・読売社説)

The government’s new scheme to enhance agricultural productivity will not boost the international competitiveness of Japan’s farming sector if it turns into yet another handout policy. For the scheme to be effective, the government must aim at realizing effective agricultural reform by going so far as to review current regulations and subsidies.
 新たなバラマキ政策となっては、農業の競争力強化につながらない。規制や補助金の見直しにも踏み込み、実効性ある改革を目指すべきだ。

The government is planning to establish an entity tentatively called the farmland intermediate management organization in each prefecture, which will lease small plots of farmland and uncultivated farmland and rent them out to large-scale farming households and agricultural business organizations. It plans to submit related bills to the extraordinary Diet session this autumn.
 政府が小規模な農地や耕作放棄地を借り上げ、大規模農家や企業に貸し出す「農地中間管理機構」(仮称)を各都道府県に創設しようとしている。秋の臨時国会に関連法案を提出する方針だ。

The new organization also will be tasked with readjusting and merging farmland and overhauling irrigation channels so the users can utilize their leased land in the best possible way.
 借り手が活用しやすい農地とするため、機構は区画整理や用水路の整備なども行う。

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has submitted a budgetary request of more than ¥100 billion for expenses related to the new entity for fiscal 2014. The ministry plans to allocate 60 percent of the money to pay rent for farmland and improve related infrastructure.
 農林水産省は2014年度予算の概算要求で機構関連として1000億円超を要望しており、このうち6割を農地の賃料や基盤整備などに充てる考えである。

The average farmland area per farming household in Japan is only about two hectares, while, the area of dormant farmland has doubled over the past 20 years to about 400,000 hectares, due chiefly to a dearth of successors to farmers. This is a serious situation.
 農家1戸あたりの農地面積は平均約2ヘクタールと狭い。後継者難などを背景に、全国の耕作放棄地が20年前のほぼ2倍の約40万ヘクタールに増えたのも深刻な事態と言えよう。

If Japan is asked to further liberalize its agricultural sector in the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks, it will be forced to engage in a tough battle with agricultural export powers. We can understand the government’s desire to boost the productivity of the nation’s farming sector by merging unused farmland to be run by highly motivated, large-scale farming households.
 環太平洋経済連携協定(TPP)交渉で一層の貿易自由化を求められると、農業大国との競争で日本の苦戦は必至だ。意欲的な大規模農家などに農地を集約し、生産性を高める狙いは理解できる。

Program faces risks of waste

But if the demand for farmland falls short, leaving much of the rented farmland on the entity’s hands, the organization will end up wastefully paying rent to the landowners. It is also feared that the government may become extraordinarily lavish in carrying out public works projects, for instance, in the name of farmland readjustment.
 だが、農地の借り手が現れず、機構に滞留するような事態に陥れば、機構は貸し手に賃料を無駄に払い続けるだけになる。区画整理などを名目とした公共事業の大盤振る舞いも懸念される。

The government’s Regulatory Reform Council has pointed out that there has been little progress in the merging of idle farmland to the benefit of farming households, primarily due to difficulty in leasing the land, which is often caused by the agricultural committee.
 政府の規制改革会議は、これまで担い手農家への農地集約が進まなかった原因として各地の農業委員会などの意向で農地の借り入れが難しかった問題を指摘した。

To expand the number of potential lessees, it is essential to review the current restrictions that limit leases to those approved by the agricultural committee. It may also become necessary to secure fairness in the leasing of farmland by introducing a system to invite applications from the public.
 借り手の拡大には、農業委員会が認めないと農地を貸借できないという現行規制の見直しが欠かせない。借り手の公募制を導入し、農地の貸し借りに公平性を担保することも必要だろう。

To prevent waste in the related budget, it will also be necessary to enhance the transparency in the management of the new entity by having it publicize such costs as rent and spending on the scheme.
 予算の無駄遣いを防ぐため、賃貸借料や整備事業にかかった費用も公表させて、機構の透明性を高める工夫も求められる。

It is also problematic that there has been little progress made in reviewing the income compensation program for individual farming households, which was started by the previous administration led by the Democratic Party of Japan. Under the program, the government’s subsidies are given uniformly to rice farmers.
 民主党政権で始まった戸別所得補償制度の見直しが進んでいないのも問題だ。コメ農家などに一律で補助金を払う仕組みである。

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party criticized the program as a handout policy when the party was in the opposition camp. But a similar program is being maintained under the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In its budget request for fiscal 2014, the farm ministry is asking for a budget of almost the same size as that for the current fiscal year.
 自民党は野党時代、これをバラマキだと批判していたが、安倍政権発足後もほぼ同じ制度を維持している。14年度概算要求でも前年度と同規模の予算を要望した。

It is feared that if this program is kept in place, small-scale farmers hoping to receive the subsidies may not give up their farmland when the mediating body tries to gather idle farmland.
 制度を温存すれば、機構で農地を集めようとしても、零細農家などが補助金を目当てに農地を手放さないことが懸念される。

We hope the government will abolish the across-the-board provision of the subsidies in accordance with the purpose of the new organization and come up with a system to intensively support highly motivated farmers.
 機構の目的に沿って一律支給を廃止し、担い手農家を重点的に支援する制度に改めてほしい。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 24, 2013)
(2013年9月24日01時31分  読売新聞)

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