Cabinet to endorse higher farming subsidy

As the cabinet is debating whether to endorse the Natural Rubber Policy Council’s latest proposal to double the 1,260 baht/rai farming subsidy, southern farmers are divided over the new subsidy and are calling a meeting this afternoon to discuss the matter.

The council’s  meeting yesterday chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Kittirat Na Ranong, also finance minister, agreed to increase the current 1,260 baht/rai farming subsidy to 2,520 baht, effective today until March next year. But the new farming subsidy will be capped at 25 rai of  farmland for a farmer.

Under this new proposal, the budget setting aside for the farming subsidy  will also rise from 11 billion  baht to 22 billion baht.

Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Yukol Limlaemthong said if the cabinet gave the green light for the new farming subsidy, he would speed up the registration of farmland of qualified rubber farmers so that the cash subsidy would be transferred into their bank accounts immediately.

He also said that the meeting with governors from 15 southern provinces at Government House this afternoon  would aim at assigning them to go into the fields to explain the new subsidy and other assistance measures to farmers so that they could have understanding in the same direction.

Meanwhile a rubber farmer leader, Amnuay Yutitham, president of the Rubber and Oil Palm Farmers Network comprising members in 16 southern  provinces, said leaders of all farmers’ networks will meet this afternoon to discuss the government’s latest subsidy.

He said that the latest farming subsidy of 2,520 baht/rai was equivalent to the guaranteed price of 90 baht/kilo which is still lower than the price which all rubber farmers proposed during their meeting with top government negotiators in Nakhon Si Thammarat last week. In that meeting, he said, farmers proposed 95 baht/kilo of sheet rubber or to compensate the price difference if farmers could fetch only 90 baht/kilo from their sale, and to retain the 1,260 baht/rai cash subsidy.

For the scheduled mass protest rally this coming  Saturday, he said that it was up to today’s meeting of farmers if they would accept the new farming subsidy of the government or not.

In Bangkok, Deputy Prime Minister Pracha Promnok who headed last week’s negotiation with farmers in Nakhon Si Thammarat, said that the new 2,520 cash subsidy was equivalent to subsidizing rubber sheet price at 12 baht/kilo, an increase of the previous price subsidy of 6 baht at the current market price of 78 baht/kilo.

He said that the government would not intervene in the rubber market so as to enable confidence among the rubber exporters.

He said that if rubber price went up over 90 baht/kilo, it would be an advantage to the rubber farmers.

He was optimistic that rubber farmers would understand the government that it has already extended full assistance to them in case of price fluctuation and  price plunging further.

 

Commenting on threat to blockade deep seaport and border customs office in Songkhla by farmers, a rubber farmer leader Tanapol Thongwan, president of the Thai Rubber Farmers Network, insisted that rubber farmers would not make any move until September 20 when the cabinet would have decision on the guaranteed rubber prices.