Committee Sittings outside of the National Assembly Seat
Saturday, 19 September 2015
30th Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee
At the sitting held on 18 and 19 September, the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee deliberated on the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Activity Information for the period July-September 2014, Information on the drafting of the rulebook on small producers as subjects in business dealings with food of animal and plant origin and the problems agricultural producers have relating to the payment of pension and disability insurance contributions.
19 September 2015 30th Sitting of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee
After a debate, the Committee members adopted the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Activity Information for the period July-September 2014 by majority vote.
The Information on the drafting of the rulebook on small producers as subjects in business dealings with food of animal and plant origin was presented by the initiator of that particular item on the agenda – Committee Deputy Chairman Arpad Fremond. He said that he had asked for the matter to be discussed at the sitting because it concerns a strategic document which is expected to solve the problems of producers with households covering less than 5 ha. He reminded the participants of the EU practice of treating this type of producer in a particular manner. The rulebook should result in the issuance of permits for production in a specific region, production for personal needs, right to sell, requirements that should be met and similar, said Fremond.
Attila Juhasz, State Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, said that the rulebook would outline the opportunities for the households to become subjects in business dealings concerning food and enable them to produce, process and market goods in line with the provisions of the Food Safety Law. The draft of the rulebook is completed, soon to be followed by a broad debate with agricultural producers from the entire territory of Serbia, and it is expected to be adopted after the amendments and modifications to the Food Safety Law are passed.
In the ensuing debate the Committee members asked how the system is expected to function, who and when would be controlling the small producers, whether they need to meet all the hygiene requirements as the big producers, how much of their merchandise they can market, whether any training of the farmers is planned to teach them about the procurement and storage of raw materials, animal waste management, product marking, etc. The Committee members also asked the Ministry to submit the planning documentation related to food safety to the Committee.
Following the debate, the Committee members unanimously adopted the Conclusion proposing that the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, in cooperation with the other ministries, pass the rulebook on small producers as subjects in business dealings with food of animal and plant origin, since both the producers and the state would benefit from it.
In the continuation of the sitting on 19 September, the Committee discussed the problems agricultural producers have relating to the payment of pension and disability insurance contributions.
Opening the debate on the topic, Committee Deputy Chairman Arpad Fremond said that small agricultural producers are obliged to pay the same amount of pension and disability insurance contributions as big ones, which is one of the problems. Another one is the accumulated debt for these contributions and its high interest rate, enforced collection and mortgaging of agricultural land. On specific examples of farmers from Backa Topola, the Committee was presented three types of problems caused by the abovementioned: non-deliverance of papers according to which the farmers have become obliged to pay pension and disability insurance contributions, status of the tax debt and the duty to pay pension and disability insurance contributions for every owner of agricultural land bigger than 0.5 ha. The Committee members pointed out inconsistencies in the regulations, settling debts on persons over 65 years of age, and also asked about the results of the Ministry’s Working Group tasked with the problem. They also suggested that those who will never be pension beneficiaries be exempt from paying the contributions, that registered agricultural households be considered liable to pay pension and disability insurance contributions, and there were also suggestions how to regulate healthcare for farmers, etc.
The sitting was attended by state secretaries at the Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, Zoran Rajic and Attila Juhasz, acting assistant minister Mladen Mladenovic, secretary of the Serbian Chamber of Commerce Nenad Budimovic, President of the Municipality of Backa Topola Kislinder Gabor and Council members, Backa Topola Ombudsman Miladin Nesic and representatives of several agricultural associations from Backa Topola and the surrounding areas.
Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic announced the Committee’s next sitting for 7 October, which will be attended by the Serbian and Hungarian ministers of agriculture.
The sitting held outside of the National Assembly headquarters in Backa Topola, farm Capriolo, was chaired by Committee Chairman Marijan Risticevic.
The sitting was organised with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), via project Strengthening the Oversight Role and Transparency of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
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Committee meetings outside the headquarters of the National Assembly are being organized and this sub-site has been produced with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), as part of the project "Strengthening the oversight role and publicity in the work of the National Assembly." The views and content on this subpage do not necessarily represent the views of UNDP and the SDC.