Limits for grants in agriculture should be substantially reduced
The program of rural development created during the term of former Agriculture Minister Tihomir Jakovina has drawn loud criticism. It covers the 2014-2020 period and annually offers about 300 million euros, reports Poslovni.hr on March 16, 2016.
Just for the Measure 4 of the program over 1,200 applications have been received. About 400 farms expect to get nearly 1.4 billion kuna, but so far less than four million kuna have been paid. Agricultural associations, as well as the experts, are asking the new Agriculture Minister Davor Romić to modify the program as soon as possible and carry out a revision of the approved projects related to Measure 4. A team from the ministry will this week start the first round of talks with the European Commission on this topic.
Croatian rural development program does not contribute to the priorities set within the general framework of the EU’s common agricultural policy, said Robert Hadžić, a fruit grower. He added that Croatia had not established a balanced territorial development of its rural communities, and had failed to create and preserve jobs while encouraging the competitiveness of agriculture. “As for the specific measures, among 19 of them, there are almost none where I would not be able to find significant objections and omissions. The aid amounts are inadequate when it comes to current situation and problems, and the set goals do not match the needs of the Croatian agriculture. This will lead to further fragmentation and disappearance of Croatian villages”, Hadžić warned.
He said that “the selection criteria and the maximum grant amounts are all contributing to the industrialization of agriculture, and do not create conditions for the survival of small family farms which make up 95 percent of agricultural activities in the EU”. Miroslav Kovač, the secretary of the Život Family Agricultural Farms Associations, said that their idea was “for more users to have access to smaller grants like it is done in all the smart countries. Poland, for example, had a limit of 200,000 euros, and we have raised the limit to as much as five million euros.”
Consultant Kristijan Mavrek also warned that changes in the program should be carried out as soon as possible and that the current five million euro limit should be reduced. “We cannot allow a situation similar to the first call for the Measure 4 when 11 owners received more than 500 million kuna for their 20 companies”, Mavrek warned.