Agriculturists talk of bureaucracy, delays

Paschalis Glavinas has a dairy farm near the village of Sohos in northern Greece. When he decided to obtain legal status for his farm buildings in accordance with the new legislation, he discovered that the procedure was extremely difficult and above all, very expensive. «A law came out in 2005 saying that livestock farmers could obtain a permit for their buildings as long as these had been built before the law was passed, without paying any fines to the building authority. «Some of us began the procedures, but were asked for topographic plans and other documents. So things didn’t get very far. In January, the law was amended to make the process easier. Still, we needed papers from the municipality, the prefecture, the region and the Agriculture Department. We also needed signatures from two civil engineers to the effect that the buildings were safe, and naturally they had to be paid. One farmer brought in a civil engineer who charged 4,000 euros. Then a three-member committee came to inspect the stables. They said they couldn’t issue the permit as the premises weren’t suitable. All very well, but the engineer had been paid. When that news got about, most farmers stopped applying. «Why can’t someone from the committee come and tell us from the outset who is entitled to get a permit and who isn’t, so we don’t waste our time?» Brothers Spyros and Giorgos Rouboulas cultivate decorative plants in Marathon, Attica. In 2004, the snow broke one of their hothouses. «We informed the Greek Organization for Farm Compensation (ELGA) to which we pay contributions as insurance against damage. A few days later they came to record the damage and told us to wait. It took us two months to collect the necessary papers; a year later we recovered one-fifth of the rebuilding cost, even though we were fully paid up contributors. All the plants were destroyed because the electricity supply was damaged and we couldn’t heat the hothouse – the temperature was minus 11 Celsius. Naturally we couldn’t wait a year to rebuild, nor was the compensation enough. So we had to take out a loan.»