Japan’s food security in the context of transition in gross agricultural output.

食料安全保障
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When I was looking for a way to look at agriculture in numbers, I came across a statistic called ‘Gross Agricultural Output (GAO)’.

To look at agriculture in figures, you have to learn a lot of words to understand what is talked about.

‘Gross Agricultural Output(GAO)’ is one of them.

GAO is basically the total output of final products in agriculture.

I’m glad it matches the concept I had in mind.

But there is a condition: the whole country is considered as one unit, and ”it is the pure output without allocating intermediate products that are re-input to produce the agricultural products”.

A similar term to this GAO is ‘Agricultural Output’.

They are similar, but actually slightly different.

Unlike GAO, which is based on the whole country, Agricultural Output is basically a prefecture-by-prefecture figure.

Furthermore, it includes intermediate products, which are not included in gross agricultural output.

農業産出額とは? 都道府県&品目別ランキングの推移から見る日本農業の今
農業産出額は都道府県別に農業生産の動向を読み取れる、とても身近なデータです。各地方の農政局も毎年農業産出額をまとめ、表やグラフにして生産状況をわかりやすく伝える資料を作成しています。これらの資料からどのようなことがわかるのでしょうか。

Trends in Gross Agricultural Output

Let’s quickly visualise the changes in Gross Agricultural Output (GAO).

The data for Gross Agricultural Output from 1955 to 2017 has been brought from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

政府統計の総合窓口
政府統計の総合窓口(e-Stat)は各府省等が公表する統計データを一つにまとめ、統計データを検索したり、地図上に表示できるなど、統計を利用する上で、たくさんの便利な機能を備えた政府統計のポータルサイトです。

The output shows that the GAO has been rising since 1955 and reached its peak in 1984, but has been declining since 1994 and has been slowly rising again since 2010.

GAO reached its highest in 1984

GAO reached its highest in 1984, exactly when Japan was in the midst of a bubble economy.

Gross agricultural output reached 11.7 trillion yen, and averaged 11.1 trillion yen, with a slight decline over the next 10 years or so.

However, since 1984, the decline has somehow continued downward and has not returned to the level of the highest.

We have now looked at the events that may have affected total agricultural output for each year since 1984.

1985 Plaza Accord (appreciation of the yen)

The Plaza Accord of 1985 is said to have triggered a bubble economy, with an acute appreciation of the yen and a sharp rise in prices such as stock and land prices.

Furthermore, the rise in land prices is believed to have raised expectations for the conversion of agricultural land into non-farmland such as housing and industrial use.

Ref: https://www.esri.cao.go.jp/jp/esri/others/kanko_sbubble/analysis_03_04.pdf

1986 Uruguay Round (GATT)

1986 saw the start of the Uruguay Round of the GATT, which would later have a significant impact on agricultural policy.

The report of the Council for Agricultural Policy, an advisory body to the Prime Minister is as follows.

Basic Direction of Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century’, ‘proposed the concentration of farmland on core farmers and production organisations, the establishment of paddy field agriculture and the reduction of production costs, with the aim of establishing agriculture as an industry that can stand on its own.

In other words, this was the year in which agriculture was transformed from a form of national security to a market-based business.

1987: Reduction of rice price for producers

In 1987, the Government’s rice purchase price was reduced due to a glut of rice and internal and external pressure for free trade.

19.日本の米    生産者米価引き下げ(1987年~) - 地理講義   
政府買入米の引き下げ(1987年)1987年(昭和62年)、日本政府は農業団体の反対を押し切り、政府が農家から買い入れる生産者米価を5.95%下げ、1俵17,557円と閣議決定した。日本国内で米が余り、政府指定倉庫からは政府買入米がはみ出していた。また、古米の保管処理費用が年1兆円を越えた。政府が農家から買い入れた米が...

Although it is necessary to check the data, it is thought that the production of rice may have been shifted to other crop production or even stopped farming.

Cold damage of 1988

It is easy to imagine that gross agricultural output fell as a result of the cold damage that hit mainly the north-east of Japan in 1988.

In terms of gross agricultural income compared to other industries, agriculture alone saw a decline of around 36%.

Introduction of consumption tax in 1989

A 3% consumption tax was introduced in April 1989.

Total agricultural output does not appear to have been affected by the consumption tax to any significant extent; in fact, the value has increased.

However, the recovery from the previous year’s cold weather may have obscured the impact of the consumption tax on output.

1990 Bidding on rice for self-distribution started.

It was 1990 when the price of rice, which had been under government control, was traded according to supply and demand on a brand-by-brand basis, and competition for production by producers began.

Agricultural policy took on a more neoliberal direction.

1991 Beef and orange liberalisation

The liberalisation of beef and oranges in 1991 led to an influx of beef and oranges from abroad, especially from the USA.

Although the data needs to be verified, this may have had an impact on the value of gross agricultural output.

From this year onwards, gross agricultural output continued to decline and never returned to the levels of the 1991s.

1993 Cold Weather Rice Riots

1993 saw a record-breaking cold summer, caused by volcanic eruptions and extreme weather conditions.

Rice yields fell to 74.1% of the previous year’s level, leading to an urgent need to import rice from abroad.

1994 GATT negotiations concluded.

This appears to be a year of recovery, perhaps from the drop in output caused by the previous year’s cool summer.

However, the conclusion of the GATT Uruguay Round negotiations leads to the establishment of the WTO.

This spurred moves towards the elimination of tariffs on trade items, including agricultural products.

1995 Liberalisation of rice distribution

In 1995, the Food Law replaces the Food Control Law and the Government controls only stockpiled rice and minimum access rice.

1942年2月21日、国民の食糧の確保と国民経済の安定を図るため食糧管理法が公布された。同法は1995年に廃止され、新たに「新食糧法」が施行された。さらに2004年には「改正食糧法」が施行された。 - 日本食糧新聞電子版
物資から商品へと変化したコメ 食糧難時代の1942年、コメを中心とする主要食糧の政府管理を目指し、従来の米穀統制法を廃止し「食糧管理法」が制定され、流通するコメの全量が政府 の直接統制下に置かれた。しかし戦後の経済発展に

In other words, free competition among farmers began, but instead of growing, gross agricultural output seems to have conversely stagnated over the years.

Causes of the rise in GAO since 2014

A little research was carried out to find the reasons for the continued rise in GAO, which had been stagnant before 2014.

ついに迫る農業の臨界点「国産が足りない!」
どう評価すべきか、迷うデータが発表された。一見、農業の先行きに光が差したように見える。農業所得が2年続けて増えたのだ。だが、楽観すべきか判断がつかない。農業危機が現実になったことを映しているかもしれないからだ。

As far as rice is concerned, this means that a Government-made market price for rice has been created by reducing rice acreage according to the supply and demand.

It is true that if the State deliberately creates supply and demand, rice prices will rise, which in turn will contribute to an increase in total agricultural output.

Furthermore, in the case of vegetables, it seems that the price increase is due to the increased need for domestically produced vegetables.

Conclusion

We have looked at various aspects of Gross Agricultural Output (GAO).

The stagnation of the output and the long-term deflation of the self-sufficiency rate may be due to weather conditions, but I have the impression that deregulation and free trade, which started in the 1980s, may have had an impact.

Of course, it is necessary to look at the data for each event, so it is not possible to draw any quick conclusions, but by examining the data, it may be possible to understand how Japan’s food security policy has been handled.

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