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Letter From The Farm | A Conscientious Objector to the Meat Industry

Meet Josef, a Czech livestock farmer who is a conscientious objector to the meat industry. For ethical reasons he slaughters his animals on farm and sells the meat locally to friends and neighbours. On-farm slaughter is not legally possible for small farmers in the Czech Republic, where the only ways to kill a cow are via big processors, investing in your own on-farm facility – which is prohibitively expensive – or live exports. In order to speak freely about his activities, Josef (not his real name) chose to remain anonymous for this conversation with Louise Kelleher. […]

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Czech Republic | Keeping Farming & Food in the Family

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, our creaking food systems have triggered a crisis within a crisis. Covid-19 has sounded the alarm on the planet’s unsustainable agricultural systems. Small-scale farms are vital links in the resilient local supply chains we need to build. But in the Czech Republic small farmers face challenges, and a six-week closure of farmers markets has hit hard. Louise Kelleher reports. […]

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Winning the Battle with the Agri-Giant Next Door

Czech organic farmer Libor Kožnar has won his yearlong battle with Agrofert, the agribusiness empire operating next to his small holding. He lost the organic certification for his wheat due to fertiliser drift from an Agrofert sprayer. Agrofert is a multimillion euro conglomerate with ties to the Czech prime minister, currently under investigation in a conflict of interest case by the European Commission. […]

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Trouble With The Neighbours: Living Next Door to an Agri-Giant

How do you get an organic farm off the ground with an agri-giant operating in the neighbouring field? Coming back to the land after a high flying career in New York City, Libor Kožnar expected the first year to be the hardest. What he didn’t expect was to find himself in a legal dispute with Agrofert, the sprawling agribusiness empire founded by the Czech prime minister. […]

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Bad Czechs and Balances: Commission Audit Confirms Czech PM in Conflict of Interest

In a glaring failure for checks and balances, a leaked European Commission audit concludes that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš continues to profit from his business empire. The billionaire premier is in conflict of interest under both Czech and EU law, say the EC auditors. The EU seems set on making an example of the Czech PM. Will this mean a clampdown on corruption in Central Europe? […]

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Czech Republic | “No Forests, No Water, No Future” – Part II: Moving On from Monocultures

Drought, insect infestations, biofuels and monocultures are impacting Czech agriculture and the ability of the soil to do its jobs, from water storage to erosion prevention. In part one of this series we exposed this troubled ecology of soil, forests and water. Next, we look at how history, politics and policy have shaped the lie of the land. With Louise Kelleher in Prague. […]

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Czech Republic | “No Forests, No Water, No Future” – Part I: Bugs in the Ecosystem

Record droughts across Europe have been compounded in the Czech Republic by a plague of bark beetle that has jeopardized the nation’s forests. In a country where forestry and farming go hand in hand, every tree lost is a blow to the land, scuppering the soil’s capacity to store water and leaving it more vulnerable to erosion. To make matters worse, the vast fields of rapeseed that have become ubiquitous to Czech agriculture in recent years thanks to generous EU subsidies for biofuels have left the topsoil in a sorry state. […]

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Rural dialogues – Let’s talk!

Introducing our next debate series – rural dialogues. What is the state of play for rural Europe? Are rural places still lagging behind – forgotten, disadvantaged and in need of extra supports? Or is there a rural renaissance of sorts occurring, from smart villages to innovation hubs? Tell us what you know and let’s get talking! […]

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Czech Mate for Roundup?

The use of glyphosate has been curtailed in the Czech Republic with a new ban on desiccating crops for human consumption that came into effect on January 1, 2019. Grains and rapeseed are the main food crops affected by the new regulations. But the Ministry of Agriculture has been accused of making a U-turn on a blanket ban on glyphosate previously announced in September 2018. How far will the Czech Republic go in calling time’s up on Roundup? […]

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Czech Republic | Chances with Wolves

Wolves are recolonizing the Czech Republic in leaps and bounds. Farmers in affected areas have been hit by attacks on livestock and are resentful of what they see as toothless protections and unpaid compensation from the state. Conservationists welcome the wolf as a much needed predator in the ecosystem. Louise Kelleher tells us more. […]

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Czech Republic | PM Babiš’ Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

The Czech chicken industry is under the wing of a Godfather. The same man is also milking the domestic dairy sector and has the nation’s encased meats all sewn up. Or at least that was the case until he became Prime Minister. Now, with a confidential European Commission report concluding Andrej Babiš has a conflict of interest between his business and his political position, are his chickens coming home to roost?  […]

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Czech Agriculture – using CAP for agroecology?

Czech Republic is the European Union country with the highest share of arable land, around 38% of its surface. Despite this fact, recent trends give clear evidence for an enormous decrease of agricultural land due to the expansion of urbanization and industrialization plans across the country. However the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU) could potentially push Czech Republic to promote an environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture. The process of land degradation in Czech Republic has its roots in the agricultural land expropriations of the 1950s done by the communist regime. During that time agricultural policy focused mostly on the large-scale consolidation of farmlands as well as on highly intensive methods of production through the use of agrochemicals without consideration of potential environmental risks.  In light of the „Velvet revolution“ in 1989 the political and economic changes gave rise various agricultural currents, from agroindustry to organic farming. Already in 1990 the Ministry for Agriculture established its own department for „alternative agriculture“, handing out Governmental support in form of direct subsidies to […]