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Farmland expropriation must follow standards: minister

TAIPEI -- With the Miaoli County government's forced expropriation of farmland drawing criticism, Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Wu-hsiung said that any taking of farmland should follow standards for major national construction projects.

Miaoli farmers have already traveled to Taipei seven times to stage protests against the county government's forced expropriation plan.

Farmers from the county's Dapu Borough said in their protest last month that despite their vehement objections, the Miaoli County government is forcibly taking over their ancestral farmland to sell it to a computer company in a move that will add 23 hectares to the Jhunan Science Park.

However, Chiang Sung-mao, the head of the county government's Economic Development Department, said last month the county has done “nothing wrong” and the entire process has been “perfectly legitimate.” Chen said that any expropriation plan must be reported to the Regional Planning Commission under the Ministry of the Interior and complete areview under acollegiate system. It was the first time Chen responded to the issue.

In addition to 5 hectares of farmland in Dapu, the county government also wants to expropriate 150 hectares of agricultural land at Wanbao Borough in Houlong Township. The county government plans to use the land to build an industrial park.

Wanbao has fertile soil with good drainage and is an excellent watermelon-producing region, according to the county's website.

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