Emphasis on boosting organic products
Changes in Greek agriculture are in the pipeline, following the review of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Agricultural Development Minister Savvas Tsitouridis told Kathimerini recently ahead of crucial EU meetings this month. In an interview with the newspaper, he also set out upcoming policy changes in all aspects of administration, production, food, forestry, as well as the implementation of measures that have already been announced for farmers. On April 19, a crucial ad hoc meeting of the European Union’s farm ministers is to take place in Luxembourg where important decisions are to be taken regarding the future of Mediterranean products (oil, tobacco, cotton). Tsitouridis met with his Spanish counterpart last week and this week is heading for Paris and Rome for further consultations with the French and Italian ministers. The goal is to formulate a «mutual perception» of revised market organizations and the system for subsidising Mediterranean products. According to Tsitouridis, the term «front,» which is often used, is not the most appropriate since it implies a confrontation. On April 15, he is to go to Brussels for talks with European Commissioner Franz Fischler. The goal of both Tsitouridis’s negotiations on the CAP and the policies that will follow is the continuation of production. The Agricultural Development Centers that are to open in all prefectures, along with the reorganization of the ministry services and organizations they supervise, will help implement production policy and promote quality products. Priority is to be given to organic and appellation controlee products, since agricultural production and cooperatives will have to adapt to new conditions. A new forestry law is also likely to be drafted, and consideration is being given to abolishing unproductive firms. As for olive oil subsidies, Tsitouridis promised proper inspections and that subsidies for actual production will be paid promptly. He said he is willing to go as far as demanding the repayment of money shown to have been paid out as a favor by the previous government. «European Union funds do not come from other people’s pockets, they are paid for by the Greek taxpayer,» he said pointedly.