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Korean Livestock Farmers Strike

August 14, 1999

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ More than 190 livestock farmers’ cooperatives declared a strike Saturday to protest a new law to merge separate farming industries into one enterprise.

The call to strike was the latest attempt by livestock farmers to stop the industry streamlining, which the cooperatives argue will cost them many jobs.

If prolonged, the strike will disrupt the domestic meat market, said officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

But the cooperatives said that, during the strike, they would continue their banking service for farmers. There are 20,000 members in the cooperatives.

The government has said the bill, which merges the agriculture, livestock, forestry and ginseng cooperatives into a single enterprise, was needed to make the cooperatives more efficient.

The National Assembly passed the law 147-10 on Friday, with 115 lawmakers abstaining.

At the same time, hundreds of livestock farmers, throwing rocks and wielding metal pipes, clashed with police in a protest attempt to block the bill.

The head of the federation of livestock cooperatives, Shin Ku-bum, 57, slashed his own abdomen with a knife Thursday during a parliamentary hearing on the bill. He was recovering in the hospital.

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