Farmers Protest Against Government’s Capitulation in Trade Dispute

By 12 August 2017

They demand a meeting with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.

Representatives of Croatian farmers, fruit and vegetable producers, believe that Prime Minister Andrej Plenković made a mistake when he ordered Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić to amend the Regulations on Inspection and Control of Compliance of Fruits and Vegetables with Market Standards. They will demand a meeting with him next week to better explain the problems of Croatian agricultural industry, reports Večernji List on 12 August 2017.

At the press conference held at the Croatian Chamber of Agriculture (HPK), HPK president Mato Brlošić, president of the Croatian Association of Vegetables Producers Hrvoje Gregurić, president of the Croatian Fruit Association Željko Banjavčić, and President of the Association of Međimurje Potato Producers Damir Mesarić expressed their support for the Agriculture Minister. They said that he was “the only agriculture minister in the last 15 years who is listening to producers and is trying to protect them.”

In mid-July, the Agriculture Ministry issued new regulations which increased the inspection and control fees for fruits and vegetables coming from non-EU countries from 90 kunas to 2,000 kunas. This increase in fees triggered a series of reactions from neighbouring countries, after which Prime Minister Plenković ordered Minister Tolušić to find a solution that would solve the problem with neighbouring countries.

The Agriculture Ministry announced on Thursday that it had amended the Regulations and that the fee had been lowered back to 90 kunas.

Naturally, agricultural producer supported the increase in fees, which made foreign fruits and vegetables more expensive. “Minister Tolušić made a good move with the Regulations, and the price of 2,000 kunas, which was set for the quality control, was not too high since it is similar to fees in many other EU member states,” said Brlošić.

He stated that they would now send a request to Prime Minister Plenković to meet with them and that he would ask for the HPK should receive monthly reports on quality controls of imported food. Brlošić, as well as others present at the press conference, concluded that the Prime Minister was influenced by pressure from large enterprises, mentioning specifically Podravka and Atlantic Group, as well as from ministers from neighbouring countries.

Also, Brlošić said that he would demand more funds for farmers in the next budget, adding that, since entering the European Union, they have been getting less and less funds to improve their production capacities.

Banjavčić stated that vegetables and fruit growers had great support from many other agricultural associations because everyone realises that Croatian agriculture is going bankrupt due to the activities of big companies. “Minister Tolušić’s move was necessary because we apply all the safeguards in Croatia and quality controls cost us about 2,000 to 2,500 kunas. This is not mandatory for countries outside the EU, and therefore Croatian producers are less competitive,” said Banjavčić.

Translated from Večernji List.