Summer may be long gone but it will be a while since this year’s – with a heatwave that lasted forever – is forgotten, not least by potato farmers. Taters wilted under the heat and pickles curled up like a dead witch’s feet. Now Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka had some good news for potato producers: if they post losses of more than 30 percent for 2015, they will be reimbursed.
Thirty to 40 percent, as it happens, is what the Czech Association of Potato Growers estimates the losses will be. The yield following this year’s harvest is reportedly the lowest on record – since 1920. The agriculture minister pledged that producers who prove the loss will be compensated but also stressed applicants will have to be patient – due to administrative procedure (all of the details will first be examined by a special committee) no one will see money overnight. The low yield has seen a rise in potato prices – currently standing at up to seven crowns a kilo. That, according to sources, is three times higher than last year, when there was shortage of supply.
The agriculture minister stressed that potato producers are not the only growers who will likely post significant losses; others who may be eligible for a financial boost may be other fruit and vegetable growers, hops producers or even cattle farmers, who were unable to grow enough feed and will have to spend more as a result in the winter months. Overall support for farmers, the minister estimated, is likely to go into the hundreds of millions of crowns.