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Taiwan's agriculture minister resigns over egg dispute

Chen mentioned smear campaigns, information warfare, and relentless attacks

Chen Chi-chung bows in apology at a press conference on Sept. 19, 2023. (CNA photo)

Chen Chi-chung bows in apology at a press conference on Sept. 19, 2023. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) accepted the resignation of Minister of Agriculture Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Tuesday (Sept. 19) amid blowback from the country’s recent egg import controversy.

The minister announced that he would step down on social media at 8 p.m. tonight. It is reported that Premier Chen accepted his resignation, which will take effect this Thursday (Sept. 21) with reluctance.

In the Facebook post, Chen reiterated that the egg import measures were correct.

Additionally, the National Animal Industry Foundation Chair Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢), announced his resignation at 8:10 p.m., saying, “We've fought a good fight, and we've weathered it together." He mentioned that they overcame African swine fever but ultimately could not prevent the "epidemic of political rhetoric,” declaring his simultaneous departure with Chen.

The resignations came as the latest development in the controversy about the Ministry of Agriculture's import of eggs during an avian flu scare. Chen said earlier today that the special import of eggs had been unfairly criticized and subjected to rumors, leading to unjust accusations against the ministry's staff.

In his Facebook post, Chen expressed his gratitude to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for her unwavering support and to all former heads of the Cabinet. He credited their support for allowing him to promote agricultural reform, which he said he has cared about for decades.

He also thanked the hardworking farmers and fishermen in Taiwan, emphasizing that their support has been instrumental in advancing Taiwanese agriculture.

Chen said the special import of eggs had aimed to carefully balance the interests of consumers and farmers, so that that consumers could access eggs at reasonable prices and that the import mechanism would not disrupt the domestic egg supply market. This strategy safeguarded the livelihoods of local egg farmers he added.

Reflecting on his more than seven years in the post, Chen mentioned smear campaigns, information warfare, and various forms of relentless attacks he said he faced. However, he said he was not afraid because he had a group of genuine partners who worked hard for Taiwanese agriculture and moved forward together.

He said he hoped that these partners would continue to work together, allowing Taiwanese farmers to stand tall and continue in pursuit of the sustainable development of Taiwanese agriculture.