Kiska: New Government Must Tackle Problems in Agriculture

A protest entited "EU's Policies Destroying Dairy Farmers" in Bratislava, September 2015 (Photo by TASR)

Spisske Hanusovce, February 26 (TASR) – The government that will emerge from the general election next week should make a comprehensive analysis of problems in agriculture and begin tackling them, said President Andrej Kiska in Spisske Hanusovce (Presov region) at a meeting with representatives of agricultural companies from across Slovakia on Friday.

“It needs to be realised that Slovakia is one of the most rural countries in the EU. While 23 percent of people in the EU on average live in the countryside, it’s more than 50 percent in Slovakia. This is also one of the reasons why it’s necessary to talk about unemployment, which is far higher in rural areas, reaching almost 20 percent,” said Kiska.

Commenting more specifically on problems in agriculture, Kiska asked how it’s possible that Slovak companies can’t sell milk at prices that are common in other countries. “Also, how is it possible that in a country that has been breeding so many pigs and cattle, these figures are continuously falling?” asked Kiska.

Farmers at the meeting complained that the prices of milk aren’t even covering their production costs.

“We don’t know when this situation could change. Our companies are so weak that they could survive one or two months at most,” said Vladimir Chovan from a company called Agropartner from Plavecke Podhradie (Bratislava region).

Chairman of the Cingov cooperative in Smizany (Kosice region) Stefan Zekucia pointed out that the coop with a yearly output of 2.5 million litres of milk in 2014 recorded a profit with a purchasing price of 35 cents per litre. In 2015, when the price dropped to 27 cents per litre, the coop fell into a loss of €300,000 with the same output. Meanwhile, this year the price has fallen by another cent, and the price may go down even further, added Zekucia.

The farmers also complained that they’ve had to reduce potato growing, as retail chains aren’t willing to pay more than 6 cents per kilogram.

“If we calculate all costs, no farmer is able to produce potatoes at such prices. We only want to have a fair share from food prices,” said Chovan.

Another problem is with the sale of meat. “Sellers from Poland are going around here, selling meat without VAT,” said Chovan, calling on the Government to reintroduce the sale of meat directly from farms under more beneficial tax conditions.