Zagreb - A delegation of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) on Wednesday met with the Croatian Parliament Committees for Agriculture, Fishing and Rural Development and for European Affairs as well as with Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić, and one of the topics discussed was the future of the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The talks also focused on the problem of unfair trade practice in food retail chains.
The EP delegation was headed by the committee's chairman Czeslaw Siekierski, who had arrived in Croatia on Tuesday and met with young farmers and wine producers. The chairman of the Croatian Parliament Committee on Agriculture, Tomislav Panenić, presented current problems and challenges in the agriculture sector and spoke of problems that were also present in other EU member states, such as a shortage of labour because of a growing number of people moving out of rural areas, a decline in the standard of producers, a decrease in the number of family-run farms, increasing costs of agricultural production, and management of state-owned land.
Panenic also spoke of the planned adoption of two important bills governing agriculture - the family farms bill and the farmland bill, and of the need to simplify procedures and reduce red tape and administrative barriers to access funds. Croatian MEP Marijana Petir informed the MEPs of the situation in the field and pointed out some of Croatia's specifics. She called for stricter controls on agricultural imports.
Siekierski spoke about reduced funding for the 2014-2020 Common Agricultural Policy and future financial perspectives, about the need to cut red tape and keep in step with the dynamics of changes, to strengthen dialogue between associations representing producers and retailers, the need for environment protection and for farmers to associate and the need to provide land for those who wish to work it.
He underlined that for Croatia it is necessary to strengthen synergy between farmers and the tourism sector as one of the country's strongest sectors, a Parliament press release said.
The Agriculture Ministry said in a press release that Minister Tolušić informed the MEPs of solutions for unfair trade practice that the ministry has prepared within the framework of the law banning unfair trade practices in food retail chains, which should be debated in the Sabor in the next few days.
He informed the MEPs of the recent natural disasters which have caused several billion kuna in damage to farmland and have led to shortages of raw materials on the market, which in turn will result in increased prices for consumers, the ministry said in a press release.
"I believe that this visit will strengthen our position as a promising agricultural country in the EU and that through cooperation we will find the most favourable solution for our producers when it comes to the new programme period for the EU's CAP," he said and added that "the EU agricultural policy has to be simplified as does the system of direct payments and should provide an advantage for specific sectors in each country and small and young farmers." (Hina)