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Direct farm subsidies to help post-disaster reconstruction
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China is allocating billions of farm subsidies in advance to support spring ploughing as part of its post-disaster reconstruction efforts, Xinhua learnt from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Thursday.

A total of 63.3 billion yuan (9.04 billion U.S. dollars) -- used as direct agricultural goods and grain subsidies -- was allocated in advance to disaster-hit provinces and autonomous regions on Wednesday.

China has pledged to speed its reconstruction in the farming sector in effort to step up preparation for spring farm work and to ensure farm products supply this year.

According to the MOF, the government is striving to give preferential policies to the farming sector, those who plant grain crops and industrial sectors that purchase agricultural equipment will get direct subsidies on time.

This effort came closely after the announcement by Vice Premier Hui Liangyu at a previous meeting. It was announced localities as well as the central government should take effective measures to reduce the negative impact of the snow disaster on agriculture.

Hui demanded local agricultural departments to earnestly implement the state's preferential policies for farmers, including supplying farmers and farm-related sectors with sufficient subsidies.

Winter storms have reaped havoc on the country's central, south and southwest since mid-January, leading to dead livestock and serious economic loss.

"Vegetable selling will be severely impacted due to the bad weather this spring," said Wei Chaoan, Agriculture Ministry deputy minister, at a meeting held in Wuhan on Thursday.

Vegetable supply will in no way escape the impact of the deep freeze, and the supply strain is expected to loom in some areas in March, according to Wei.

(Xinhua News Agency February 22, 2008)

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