The second step in the agricultural reform came into force.
In the days of this government, will they be able to implement a consensual reform that will benefit the public and compensate the farmers? (Photo: ShutterStock)
The agricultural lobby breathed a sigh of relief when the coalition agreements between Torah Judaism and Likud were signed.
Among the clauses that talk about budgeting for ultra-Orthodox education and the postponement of the conscription law, there was hidden a clause that I doubt anyone thought could appear in a party that is far from working the land: the cancellation of the agricultural reform.
But it turns out that the joy of the farmers, who signed the reform only last July, is probably premature.
Despite the announcements of its premature death, the agricultural reform lives, breathes and kicks hard at those who wanted to eliminate it.
Yesterday, its second phase came into effect, when the tariffs on vegetables such as cauliflower, eggplant, parsley and lettuce dropped to 70%, potatoes to 50%, apricots, melons, cherries, watermelon, strawberries and plums to 50% and the tariff on frozen vegetables was reduced to 70%
Farmers' protest against the reform, August 2001. They switched to delay tactics, but apparently - lost (Photo: Shlomi Heller, without)
Wells for plant protection
The introduction of the second phase should make it easier to import agricultural produce from abroad and reduce the prices of fruits and vegetables. And this is exactly what the new Minister of Finance, Bezalel Smotrich, wants, who not only does not intend to cancel the agreements signed by the farmers as part of the reform, he intends to honor the signed agreement in full , and to act to pass the plant protection regulations in the economy committee, so that the importation of vegetables and fruits, which has been stuck because of them, will finally come to fruition.
The reform in agriculture promoted by the previous Minister of Agriculture, Oded Forer, together with the outgoing Minister of Finance, Avigdor Lieberman, was one of the flags of the government of change, and it is supposed to gradually lower the The tariffs on fruits and vegetables, in order to open up imports and reduce prices, while moving to direct support for farmers and investments in technology.
The farmers, who opposed it with all their might, waged a battle against Forer, and the director general of the ministry, Naama Kaufman-Fess, within the framework of which they did everything to leave the situation as it was for the state - the farmers' organizations set quotas, block imports and maintain their power, while the farmers struggle to survive And the public pays a lot of money for fruits and vegetables and is satisfied with a limited variety on the shelf.
Until Gafni's lifeline arrived, the farmers' organizations succeeded in stopping the reform, which, as mentioned, they themselves signed only a few months before by agreement, through the activation of the plant protection department at the Ministry of Agriculture, or on its behalf The full, "Plant Protection and Inspection Services", which believes in issuing import permits to Israel and certificates attesting to the quality of fresh agricultural produce.
Under the grounds of "introducing pests and diseases", and in the absence of standards that limit its power, "Plant Protection" managed to stop the importation of the fruits and vegetables on which it fell the customs significantly and curb the importers who contracted with growers fromto bring them to Israel.
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Bezalel Smotrich after his inauguration.
Inserted a small but significant clause in the coalition agreement, which enables the implementation of the second step of the reform (Photo: Reuven Castro)
The sentence that changed everything
Then the Minister of Finance entered the picture and intervened in the formulation of the aforementioned clause in the coalition agreement of Torah Judaism which says: "On the background of the purposes of agriculture as a Zionist value, a means of preserving land, productive independence and national nutritional security, the government will promote a new reform in the field of agriculture, while finding the right balance between reducing prices and the strength of agriculture until a re-formulation of the aforementioned outline, the reforms in agriculture drawn up by the 36th government will be frozen, insofar as they did not enter into force automatically.
" the opening of imports from abroad.
It is assumed that the surprised farmers' organizations will not give up and return to the struggle to turn the wheel back.
It is to be hoped that the Minister of Finance and the new Minister of Agriculture, Avi Dichter, together with the Ministers of Finance and the Economy, will be determined enough to carry out the reform from both sides: both in opening up imports and lowering prices, but also in more generous direct support for farmers,
Minister of Finance
Minister of Agriculture