Representatives of the major political parties and coalitions presented their agricultural platforms for the next four years at a round table on Monday, highlighting family-run farms, a more efficient farmland policy and stabler financing.

The survival and development of family-run farms is the backbone of the People's Coalition's platform, said Ana Marija Petin of the Croatian Peasant Party, one of the partners in the coalition. She announced the adoption of a law on family-run farms, amendments to the farmland law, which would give such farms precedence in the purchase and allocation of state-owned land, and "tackling the unfair trade practice."

Incumbent Agriculture Minister Davor Romic of the Bridge party said an unfair trade practice bill was ready but that the government's fall in June prevented its passage.

Romic said agriculture had huge national potential but that farmland was unused. Croatia has 2.6 million hectares of farmland, of which 870,000 is state-owned, and between 670,000 and 750,000 is unused, he said, adding that unsolved property rights relations were the main obstacle to putting that land to use.

Tugomir Majdak of the Croatian Democratic Union said Croatia needed a new farmland law, that family-run farms were the foundation of agriculture's sustainability and that it was necessary to set up production centres to enable local producers to better sell their product.

He said the HDZ had a model for giving land to young farmers under strict criteria and that it planned to review last year's allocation of land to cattle breeders.

The HDZ also advocates the establishment of an agrarian bank, while the People's Coalition believes it is better to first organise a unit for lending to farmers at the Croatian National Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

The People's Coalition advocates cutting VAT on food and raw materials and manufacturing components.

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