Agriculture Minister Stops Payment of 17 Million Kuna to “Virtual Farmers”

Total Croatia News

Some farmers were receiving money for nothing.

What is happening with subsidies? Why haven’t we received money for our pastures and meadows? No one can explain what is going on, we cannot get any information, and we have a lot of work to do. These are just some of the question asked lately by dissatisfied farmers. While waiting for a response from the Agency for Payments in Agriculture, Agriculture Ministry announced changes to the regulations on the implementation of direct aid to agriculture, reports Jutarnji List on March 10, 2017.

Inquiry as to why the regulations had been changed led to a quite shocking discovery of fraud. One of the initiatives which Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolušić launched after coming into office was the control of payments of all subsidies, including those for the use of pastures. Unannounced site visits from state inspectors discovered a large number of irregularities. Of all the checked pastures, irregularities were found at as many as 50 percent of them. In many cases, pastures were actually neglected fields with unwanted vegetation, and “farmers” did not own cattle at all. In short, the receivers of subsidies were taking taxpayers’ money for nothing.

Having received the negative findings of the inspection, Minister Tolušić immediately asked for a more detailed investigation of pastures subsidies. The information he received was even more shocking. It was determined that there were 683 farms in the database on land use with ​​more than one hectare of pastures and no cattle. In theory, if incentives are requested, the livestock must be recorded in the Central Register of Domestic Animals kept by the Croatian Agricultural Agency. The largest number of pastures without cattle was found in Šibenik-Knin, Osijek-Baranja and Lika-Senj counties.

That is the reason why such “farmers” did not receive their incentives, and inspections are continuing. After they are concluded, the Ministry will calculate the amounts of new incentives and issue fines for irregularities. “Of course, we were unpleasantly surprised with the scale and audacity of irregularities. It is not acceptable that someone would get almost 3,000 kuna per hectare of pasture with no grazing cattle. We found nearly 6,000 hectares of pastures whose owners do not own cattle, and they were supposed to receive 17 million kuna. I will not allow it. I am no Robin Hood, but money must be used to encourage actual agricultural production”, said Minister Tolušić.

According to new regulations, farmers in karst pastures, which are all those south of Karlovac (Lika, Dalmatia and islands) will have to own at least two sheep per hectare, while farmers using northern pastures will have to own at least one cow per two hectares of pasture.

The introduction of stricter conditions will finally make the whole process more transparent. This has stopped the payment of taxpayers’ money to “virtual farmers”. “I do not know why it hasn’t been done before, and why subsidies were given to pastures without cattle”, said Tolušić. Average annual amount paid per one hectare of agricultural land is 2,200 kuna, while farmers in areas with special restrictions receive additional 800 kuna per hectare.


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