Monday, April 22, 2013

Sichuan Links Subsidy to Grain Planting

Xinhua News Service announced that Sichuan Province will link grain subsidies to the amount of grain planted. The policy adjustment couples subsidies to production, "smashing the big rice bowl." Now "whoever plants gets a subsidy," and "whoever doesn't plant doesn't get a subsidy."

In Sichuan large numbers of rural people leave their villages to work and rent out their land to neighbors. Under the old subsidy practice, the subsidy went to the land "owner," not to the farmer who rented the land and grew the crops. The new practice will pay subsidies to the farmer who grows the crops. The article cites the example of a village where 800 of the 1500 residents spend most of their time working elsewhere. One villager who rents his neighbors' land plants 7 mu (a little more than 1 acre) of rice and is considered a "big farmer" used to get no subsidies for his rented land. Now he will get about 500 yuan, "lightening his burden."

The Sichuan adjustment is described as experimental and will be implemented in 12 major grain-producing counties. Actually there are already quite a few provinces distributing subsidies based on land planted or grain sold. In 2009, the National Development and Reform Commission issued a document urging local authorities to link the "general input subsidy" to actual production. This announcement appears to be a propaganda signal implementing the "Number one document's" call for linking subsidies to actual production. It uses the same rhetoric of concentrating subsidies and no longer "sprinkling subsidies like sesame salt." The article reports that local officials say the changing structure of farming requires a change in subsidy methods.

The article doesn't report how local officials will record and verify how much land is actually planted in grain and how they will handle disputes over who gets the money.

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