Thursday, 26 November 2015

38th Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee

At the sitting held on 26 November, the members of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee deliberated on the state of play concerning the Bill amending and modifying the Law on Agricultural Land and the payment of agriculture stimulation packages.

Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic said that, from the aspect of the general agricultural situation, the Bill is good and it was drafted with the help of agricultural producers themselves. He added that the goal of today’s discussion is to formulate amendments to improve the Bill. He added that certain important issues need to be addressed so that the dilemmas they cause in the public could be resolved, namely the right to lease agricultural land, leasing disused state-owned land in auction with the starting bidding price of 0 RSD, preferential right of lease for fruit farmers, greenhouse owners and livestock breeders under favourable conditions, sale of land to small agricultural producers, etc.

Zoran Rajic, State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, and Dragan Glamocic, Advisor to the Serbian Prime Minister, presented the innovations contained in the Bill and the reasons why it should be passed, primarily the fact that 70% of agricultural land is not leased or is in the so-called grey zone. The Bill defines agricultural land as land of common interest which thus cannot be used for other purposes. The Bill envisages the introduction of field books and crop rotation, and according to the Bill the local self-governments will not receive budget funds if they fail to adopt programmes in due time. Also, land previously not leased will now be leased in auction for 0 RSD, time of lease is extended from 20 to 30 years, and the Bill defines who cannot lease state-owned land and the preferential leasing rights. In addition, unauthorised use will be fined the triple amount of the highest average price per ha on the territory of the district where the lad is situated.

State Secretary Zoran Rajic announced that the stimulus packages owed to the farmers will be paid in December of this or January of next year. It was agreed that they will be transformed into a public debt which will be paid to the producers with a 1-3% interest.

The ensuing debate that was also joined by the representatives of the agricultural associations who took part in the drafting of the Bill, focused on specific solutions that could be formulated as amendments to the Bill. The participants also discussed the farmers’ protests against the Bill, with a special focus on allowing foreign nationals to lease the land.

Following the debate, the Committee members adopted, by majority vote, a Conclusion thanking the farmers’ associations for participating in the drafting of the Bill. The Committee also adopted a Conclusion stating that the Committee members remain open to cooperation on the Bill with all associations or individuals who wish to improve it.

In the continuation, the Committee accepted, by majority vote, the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection activity information for the period April-June and July-September 2015.

The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic.

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wednesday, 27 january

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