The new Croatian Agriculture Minister, Davor Romic, has said that it is necessary to revitalise Croatia's rural areas and to solve the issue of uncultivated agricultural land through measures such as land consolidation and sanctions against owners of untended arable land.
Farmers are in an unenviable position, being burdened by financial liabilities and a series of para-fiscal taxes, and they are not competitive due to fragmented plots and high costs of production, and there is a huge difference between big and small farms when it comes to their access to European Union funds, Minister Romic said in an interview with Hina.
He said that some of those issues might be solved through intervention into the exiting legislation, however, some issues would require cooperation between several ministerial departments.
As for amending the existing laws, Romic said that that some issues might be solved by intervention into the implementation plans of the programme on rural development or by amending the law on agricultural land and the law on agriculture.
Romic also advocates the establishment of a financial institution that will financially support farmers.
According to figures presented by the minister, Croatia has 2.7 million hectares of agricultural land, and of that amount 738,000 hectares are owned by the state, while a mere 430,000 are being used.
"Certainly, not all state-owned agricultural land is very suitable for agricultural production," he admitted.
However, he proposes the combination of several measures, including land consolidation. As for a possible imposition of taxes for private owners of uncultivated arable land, Romic said that ownership and proprietary relations had to be solved before opting for the introduction of such tax.