Two Czech billionaires have teamed up in an effort to buy the country’s top brewery, Plzeňský Prazdroj, according to Hospodářské noviny. The country’s wealthiest man, Petr Kellner, and Pavel Tykač, fifth on the rich list, want to get their hands on the Pilsner Urquell-producer and other regional breweries being sold off by SABMiller.
The state run forestry company Lesy ČR has seen net profits tumble by around 30 percent to around 4.0 billion crowns this year. Company managers have blamed the steep drop on lower timber prices. They also say they have been forced to fell poor quality trees because of the ever present danger of bark beetle infestation. The state company owns around half the forests in the country. Last year it announced net profit of 5.4 billion crowns with a record 6.8 billion made in 2014.
Around 36,000 people have disappeared from the Czech Republic’s smallest districts, those with populations below 500, between 2001-2014. Such districts still number around 3,500 with 840,000 people living in them. However, if the trend continues then the Czech countryside could follow the example of Spain, Italy, and Greece and become a virtual museum. Districts often face the problems of an ageing population, most of the educated leave for bigger cities, high unemployment, and poor services. The Ministry of Agriculture has woken up to the problem and is now encouraging business start-ups in such localities with grants.
Thousands of people gathered on Freedom Square in Brno on Friday to attend the opening of this year’s first bottles of Saint Martin’s wine. The day of Saint Martin, which is celebrated in the country on November 11, has become an occasion for winemakers to present their young wines. Events are taking place all around the country. In Prague the main festivities will be held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad. Over two million bottles of Saint Martin’s wine will be available on the market this year.
November 11th, or St. Martin’s Day, has always been associated with the first snow reflected in the popular saying “St. Martin arrives on a white horse”. In recent years the day has come to be known for something else altogether: young wine from the year’s harvest goes on sale in shops and at open air markets around the country to light up the autumn gloom with some summer sun.
China’s ambassador to Prague was called on Thursday the circumstances surrounding Beijing’s last minute ban on agriculture minister Marian Jurečka heading a delegation to the country. The ambassador met with deputy foreign affairs minister Martin Tlapa where the subject was raised. The meeting had been scheduled previously. Christian Democrat Jurečka has been an outspoken backer of party colleague and culture minister Daniel Herman in a recent row over the circumstances of his meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The Czech agriculture delegation was part of an agreed programme aimed at cutting China’s massive trade surplus with the Czech Republic. Deputy minister Tlapa said after the meeting that the ambassador could not give reasons for the ban and apparently did not know them. Attempts will be made to fix future dates for Jurečka's visit.
Czech poultry farmers have been recording a sharp increase in demand for eggs, following a Salmonella outbreak in Europe linked to eggs from Poland. Some three million eggs from a Polish supplier were recalled from supermarkets around the Czech Republic due to the threat of salmonella. However, Czech farmers are unable to meet the growing demand due to their own low production.
The lower house of Parliament has moved to curb bootleg wine production. The proposed amendment to the law envisages fines of up to 50 million crowns, up from the present 5 million, and sets down strict norms on the sale of barrel wine. If the bill wins approval in the Senate in its present form, barrel wine will only be able to be sold by wine producers and importers in special shops, so-called vinotekas, under strict conditions. Agriculture Minister Marian Jurecka argues that in some ways the bill is excessively stringent and has said he will try to get the Senate to modify it. The country’s small wine-makers also fear that the new conditions could be devastating for their business.
The lower house of Parliament has voted to extend a diesel tax rebate program to livestock farmers and other agricultural workers. Currently the program, under which farmers are able to reclaim 40 percent of the consumption tax they pay on diesel gas back from the state, applies only to grain farmers. Under the present amendment it should also apply to fisheries and forestry workers. The amendment, which still needs to win approval in the Senate, aims to raise the competitiveness of Czech farmers in the EU.
Fishermen in Třeboň, south Moravia say they expect a harvest of around 2,300 tonnes of fish this year. The ceremonial launch of three days of harvesting began on Friday morning at the largest Czech fish pond Rožmberk, which is near Třeboň. The town is the country’s most famous centre for the production of carp, which is traditionally eaten by Czechs for Christmas dinner. This volume of fish expected this year is regarded as average.