Friday, 18 January 2019

Agriculture minister says food self-sufficiency is priority

19 December 2017

Prague, Dec 18 (CTK) - Czech Agriculture Minister Jiri Milek (ANO) sees the country's food self-sufficiency as his priority and he also wants to prevent a lowering of EU subsidies for Czech farmers after 2020, he told reporters at a press conference on Monday after being inaugurated in his post by PM Andrej Babis (ANO).

He ruled out the possibility of the state's Budvar brewery and Lesy CR forest company being sold.

Babis stressed the need to secure food safety as well and pointed out the problem of double standards for food in the EU market.

Milek said food self-sufficiency was his chief priority, which is why it was important to provide farmers and food producers with support comparable to that provided to farmers and producers in western EU countries.

"Every developed nation heeds food self-sufficiency in staple food as its priority," he said.

Milek is to discuss the joint EU agrarian policy after 2020 in Brussels, intending to prevent the lowering of the subsides for Czech farmers, which is expected also due to the decreased EU budget after Britain's exit from the union.

Milek said another priority of his was protection of the Czech market from food and agrarian products' imports of poor quality or at dumping prices.

According to Babis, the problem with varying quality of the same products in different EU states should be resolved by EU regulations.

Milek also suggested the possibility of staff changes in the ministry, without detailing them.

He will have to deal with his being a board chairman of the Usovsko agrarian and food concern due to the conflict of interests law prohibiting such involvement of cabinet members in companies that receive subsidies. Placing his share into a trust fund would be a solution, he said earlier.

President Milos Zeman appointed Babis's ANO 15-member minority cabinet on December 13. On the same day, Babis inaugurated seven new ministers in their posts and he inaugurated another four on Monday. Out of the total of 14 ministers, nine are newcomers and five were members of the previous coalition cabinet of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD).

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