Farmers to Decide on Protests Next Week

The Agrarian Chamber (AK) and the Agricultural Union (ZS) board have yet to decide the future of farmers’ planned protests on March 21st. As leaders informed journalists, this decision comes after an evening meeting with the Minister of Agriculture, Marek Výborný (KDU-ČSL).

A European-wide protest was scheduled a day earlier, and Czech agricultural organizations were called to participate. Výborný expressed that he welcomes the return to negotiations and wants both sides to calm their emotions. The President of AK, Jan Doležal, stated that they agreed to contact their member bases, specifically the boards, inform them of the more specific results of today’s meeting, and let them decide. The options, according to him, are either protests or further negotiations.

Chairman of ZS, Martin Pýcha, highlighted that resolutions speaking of a protest on March 21st are still valid. However, they received a request from foreign colleagues to support a joint action on March 20th. The results of today’s meeting will be shared with colleagues, and a decision will be made on how to proceed.

Farmers are demanding support for employment in the countryside, not cutting support for animal welfare, and returning land taxation to the level before the consolidation package. Other demands include non-taxation of European operating subsidies and restrictions on duty-free imports of agricultural products from countries outside the European Union.

During the evening meeting, both sides confirmed that the government supports two farmers’ five demands. Výborný previously offered farmers that the government would add money for animal welfare and support rural employment with two billion for social insurance discounts. He stated, “It is also necessary to call on the European Commission to approach some crisis aid package within its budget.”

Farmers last protested on Saturday in the Polish part of Trojmezí near Bogatynia, together with colleagues from Poland and Germany. Last Thursday, according to AK estimates, 3,000 to 4,000 farmers and 1,000 pieces of agricultural machinery arrived in Prague. The police secured two people in connection with the protests. One of whom dumped a pile of manure in front of the government office, and the other tried to climb over the barriers.