Farmers Warn Collapse in Prices Threatens Future of Industry

By , 03 Dec 2020, 12:07 PM Business
A farm in Bovec and Kanin mountains. A farm in Bovec and Kanin mountains. Wikimedia Tiia Monto CC-by-SA-3.0 Unported

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STA, 2 December 2020 - The Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia (KGZS) has warned that the situation on agricultural markets is deteriorating practically on the weekly basis due to declining purchase prices, with cattle and pig farmers hit the hardest.

Presenting the situation at a press conference on Wednesday, KGZS president Roman Žveglič called on the state and the food industry to take immediate measures, while all stakeholders have been urged to enter talks.

According to Žveglič, the situation is the worst in cattle and pig farming, and since the outbreak of the Covid-19 epidemic also in wine growing and the vegetable industry.

Prospects are not good for the fruit sector either, and the situation may quickly deteriorate in the milk production sector, he added.

The crisis has been the longest when it comes to beef. Purchase prices dropped in April, and there have been no major corrections since, while retail prices have increased.

Currently, the average purchase price for a kilo is around three euros. "In the EU, it is around 3.5 euros, so it is clear what is the amount of loss suffered by Slovenian breeders," he said.

Prices of pork have also dropped, and an additional problem is buyers delaying their purchases. Breeders are also facing the problem of increasing prices of fodder.

The KGZS expects that the food industry will immediately enter talks with their buyers in order to ensure a proper price ratio. "We expect that it will immediately start paying at purchase prices proportionate to their own prices for individual products."

Retailers are expected to reduce imports and prioritise Slovenian products, and the state should also help. "The state should make a comprehensive analysis of the price structure ... and examine possible abuse of power over weaker stakeholders."

The relevant state authorities are expected to carry out thorough supervision over labelling of meat, and to see whether possible unfair practices are conducted in the meat supply chain.

The KZS supports promotion by the state, but the "money for promotion must, at this moment, be exclusively intended for informing consumers about where the food comes from, what its quality is, and whether stakeholders in the food industry are treated fairly."

Žveglič said that farmers were getting desperate and that an increasing number of small farms were thinking about calling it quits. Some of them are taking out loans to cover running costs. "We are at a point when cheap imports may destroy Slovenian farming."

Asked whether farmer protests were an option, he said that talks with stakeholders were planned first. "But if the situation does not improve, this scenario is inevitable," Žveglič concluded.

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