Peasants against farmers

Hundreds of farmers from Istria, Slavonia and Baranje drove their tractors to Zagreb yesterday and gathered at the Ministry of Agriculture, demanding higher guaranteed prices and financial support. They want to talk to prime minister Sanader and threaten to block Zagreb if their demands are not met. So far the traffic wasn't hindered too much. Today is a national holiday, many took a day off tomorrow, so there is no traffic to speak off.
Former boxer and current president of Croatian Farmers Union (Hrvatski seljački savez) Željko Mavrović distanced himself from the protesters and their rival peasant organizations. "Do something, don't just scream 'give me money'," he said. He accuses them of representing "private interests" only. (In conservative, half-socialist Croatia "private interest" still is a term of abuse.) In turn the peasants accuse Mavrović of representing only big farmers, as the members of his Croatian Farmers Union have on average much more land.
Croatian agriculture is dominated by peasants whose produce often can't compete with Western Europe. The prices of vegetables, fruit and dairy products in supermarkets aren't exactly low though. A liter of yogurts costs around 1,50 euro, milk 75 cents, cheese (of the worst possible quality) 7 euro per kilo. GDP, both nominal and per capita, in neighboring Slovenia is twice as high as Croatia's, yet almost everything is cheaper there: food, wine, rent-a-car, mineral water... Revealing if you know that the average Croatian family spends 40 percent of its income on food. The slogan on the tractor says "Protect domestic production". If the government listens to such demands, Croats will soon be spending half of their income on food.

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