Today, the Non-Governmental Union "Agro-Food Council" was presented. It was created to protect the interests of Ukrainian agricultural industry. The Agro-Food Council brings together associations and enterprises engaged in the production and processing of various agricultural products.

 

In particular, the Union was joined by the NGU "Association of Gardeners, Vine-growers and Winemakers of Ukraine", the Association "Vine-growers and Winemakers of Ukraine", the Association "Ukroliaprom", NGO "Ukrainian Agrarian Association", All-Ukrainian Council of Women Farmers, Center for Development of Land Legal Relations in Ukraine, Center for efficiency improvement of stockbreeding, the Association of farmers and landowners of Dnipropetrovsk region as well as the National Association of Livestock Breeding "Ukrplemobyednannia". The Agro-Food Council will become a crucial link in depenning the dialogue between the state and agricultural industry players be it is a small farmer or a high-capacity agricultural producer.

As of now, these organizations represent the interests of 326 agricultural enterprises that cultivate 750,000 hectares of arable land and 8,500 hectares of perennial crops. They account for 80% of the wine market and 70% of the vegetable oil market. During the Union’s presentation two new members joined it: the "Ukrainian Association of producers and processors of soya" and the Association of Farmers and Landowners of Poltava region.

The Agro-Food Council will become a crucial link in depenning the dialogue between the state and agricultural industry players be it is a small farmer or a high-capacity agricultural producer.

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Acting Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine Olga Trofimtseva attended the presentation and noted: "Professional sectoral associations such as the Agro-Food Council are an important factor... It is extremely important to have such a direct and ongoing dialogue with all producers in different sectors, different industries. Because this is the only way to get first-hand information, only in this way you can understand what is happening in the sector. Because I, as a representative of the public authorities, do not want to get into such a bubble, when only the information that is desirable to convey to me is conveyed, and everything else - I do not hear, do not know and, accordingly, do not respond. I hope that this union, this Council will become a professional structure that will not only on the one hand lobby the interest of the sector in dealings with the government and the state, but also will lobby the interests of the sector abroad".

"Ukrainian Agrarian Association became one of the first members of the Agro-Food Council", stated the UAA Deputy Head Maryan Zablotskyy, "Today, there are about 100 agrarian associations in Ukraine whose members face the same problems. In order to resolve all these issues, the time for agrarian and expert circles have long come to consolidate into a single effective lobbying group for the interests of the Ukrainian agricultural sector. This trend is common for the USA as well as European countries, where neither the parliament nor the government makes decisions important for the industry without consulting the relevant associations of the representatives of those sectors of the economy".

M. Zablotskyy is convinced that a comprehensive approach with the participation of all participants of the agrarian market will allow to cover the whole spectrum of existing problems and solve them in a comprehensive way. He also named the top priority tasks to be raised in the course of work of the Agro-Food Council. In particular, he noted:

"By the end of the year, we will do everything to reduce the costs of production for agricultural businesses. Now we know for sure that we have port charges 2.5 times higher than abroad; that we have the JSC "Ukrainian railways" tariffs that are too high because of the massive corruption and overestimated expenses in this organization. And we also want agricultural enterprises to be reimbursed for the fuel excise tax. We now have a situation where, in fact, the owners of diesel locomotives do not pay excise tax on fuel under the pretext that they do not use the roads. Tractors also do not drive on roads 90 percent of their working time, hence, why should agricultural businesses pay excise tax on fuel? We have come up with a model in which agricultural enterprises will be compensated for the fuel excise tax they paid upon the purchase of gasoline. That's about $12 per hectare, and it's a real proposition that can be introduced in the Parliament of new convocation. We will prepare all these initiatives together with the Agro-Food Council and will initiate them".

It should be reminded that on May 30, 2019, the Agro-Food Council conducted a peaceful demonstration under the walls of the Presidential Administration in order to attract the attention of the newly elected President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky to the problems of the agricultural sector. At the present time, many issues remain extremely painful for Ukrainian agricultural industry, including illegal seizure (raiding) of land, harvest or other property; imperfect and inconsistent with modern market requirements logistics infrastructure; lack of legislative framework for a number of land-use issues, which leads to conflicts; lack of open land market, contributing to the existence of a "shadow" land market; imperfect mechanism for distributing state aid (under which farmers have obtained only 13% of the funds last year) and many others.

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