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Agriculture Minister supports eastern Slovak farmers

AGRICULTURE Minister Zsolt Simon views demands by farmers in eastern Slovakia for the government to top up direct payments to 65 percent of what old EU countries receive, as justified.

The farmers point out that eastern Slovakia is not only on the periphery of Slovakia, but the periphery of the whole European Union (EU), said Simon on his August 5 working trip through farms in the Košice and Prešov regions in eastern Slovakia.

The Agriculture Ministry also agrees with their demand to resolve extremely low purchase prices for grain and rapeseed. According to eastern Slovak farmers current prices could cause them a loss of Sk733 million (€19 million), the SITA news agency reported.

The agriculture minister said that 'Bratislava-Centrism' means prices are set in Bratislava. Therefore farmers from the eastern parts of Slovakia are disadvantaged because they are only offered low prices.

"Grain from the centre [Bratislava region] is sold for €95.2 per tonne, i.e. almost Sk3,700 per tonne, while the same amount of grain from eastern Slovakia is sold for just Sk3,000 (€76.9). This undervalues work by eastern Slovak farmers and it needs to be redressed," said Simon at the AGRO Plus Budimír company briefing, a farm cooperative in the Košice district.

The agriculture minister also said that should direct payments to farmers be decreased differences between western and eastern regions will be even more striking.

Compiled by Marta Ďurianová from press reports
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