On Wednesday, over 3500 farmers gathered in Prague for a demonstration. The farmers marched from Prague’s Hradčanské námestí to the parliament, where the annual budget negotiations are in progress. There, the farmers burst through a barricade the police had built and voiced their demands through a megaphone. The demonstrators then handed over their declaration to Bohuslav Sobotka, the head of the parliament’s budget committee. In the declaration, farmers are demanding an increase of the budget for agriculture by 1.5 billion crowns. The vice-president of the Agrarian Chamber, Jindřich Šnejdrla, said that incomes of Czech farmers would sink to the lowest level in history next year and that in addition, prices of agricultural products were sinking because of the financial crisis, putting farmers in a precarious position.
The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority announced Friday that the brewery Radegast had passed its inspection and is now entitled to call itself a “Czech Beer,” a name that is protected and requires a certain standard of quality. Other brands that are allowed to call their brews a “Czech Beer” are Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus and Velkopopovický Kozel. The European Union introduced protected designations of origin for agricultural and food products in 1993 to help consumers discern quality products more easily. In the Czech Republic, the protected status of beer has added to the regard and success of the product abroad, says Jiříi Mareček, spokesman of the brewers’ association Prazdroj Pilsen.
One of the better-known saints of the Catholic church, St. Martin is honored on November 11th in the Czech Republic with the Feast of St. Martin, a meal of duck, dumplings and red cabbage. The feast is accompanied with St. Martin’s wine, a popular wine that arrives at wine stores today. Sarah Borufka went along to one of the wine tasting events in Prague.
Czech breweries have said they are preparing a complaint to the country’s constitutional court over a planned increase of duty on beer. Duty on half a litre of beer should rise by half a crown from January as part of the government’s package to curb the 2010 budget. The deputy head of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, Jiří Fusek, said the rise threatened the existence of some companies which is some cases would have to bear the brunt of the increase because of fixed long-term contracts with suppliers. He said brewers would turn to the European Union and Brussels if they failed in their legal fight at home.
Thousands of dairy farmers across the Czech Republic poured milk down drains and onto fields on Thursday to protest the low prices they are being paid. The protest organised by the Agricultural Chamber aimed at disposing of around half a million litres of milk, or around 7.0 percent of daily production. Farmers say they are being paid just over five crowns a litre for milk, around half of the price they need to break even. Potato growers also joined some demonstrations. They say land devoted to potato cultivation has fallen by 20 percent over the last decade because of insufficient support.
Czech dairy farmers are planning to pour half a million litres of milk onto the ground at eight locations around the country on Thursday, in protest at what they say is the low price they are currently receiving. Farmer’s group representative Kamil Vystavěl told the CTK news agency that the situation in the milk business was serious and had not been addressed for over a year; he said some producers could go out of business due to the low prices.
The Agrarian Chamber has said that dairy farmers will pour thousands of litres of milk into selected fields on Thursday in protest of low purchase prices. A list of areas where the protests will take place will be released Tuesday, the head of the chamber Jan Veleba said. A representative for producers in southern Moravia confirmed that around one third of one’s day’s production in one area would be destroyed, with roughly 25,000 litres being poured into the ground.