(photo credit: MIRIAM KRESH)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved on Sunday a bill that would implement price controls on fruits and vegetables.
If the legislation goes on to receive Knesset approval, the Farmers Federation of Israel – also known as the Israel Farmers Association estimated that families would save NIS 300-NIS 600 monthly on their grocery bills.
The bill was initiated by MK Zvulun Kalfa (Bayit Yehudi), chairman of the Knesset Farm Lobby, in collaboration with the federation and the Consumers’ Council.
“In the past six years, the country’s vegetable prices soared 30 percent, while in European countries prices rose only 12% at the same time,” Kalfa said. “This rate of price increase is very worrisome.”
The aim of the bill, which was drafted with “unprecedented cooperation” among the parties, is to provide fair prices to consumers so that they can enjoy fresh domestic produce, according to the federation.
Meanwhile, the bill would reduce the market gap between farmers and retailers, which results in high prices for consumers and low profits for farmers, the federation said.
“The bill we submitted will put an end to the piggishness of the middlemen who profit at the expense of the farmers and the consumers,” Kalfa said.
Signatories of the bill in addition to Kalfa include MKs Itzik Shmuli (Labor), Omer Bar-Lev (Labor), Ya’acov Margi (Shas), Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism), Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi), Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid) and Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid).
Bar-Lev, who is the co-chairman of the lobby, likewise called the bill’s initial passage “an important step that will lead to lower prices for agricultural products” as well as help farmers combat “intolerable price gaps.”
Echoing Kalfa and Bar-Lev’s sentiments, Dov Amitai, chairman of the federation, called the market gap “the central link in the chain of the cost of living.”
“Any attempt to reduce costs without supervision, such as by importing, is destined to fail, and we proved this already with the prices of apples and meat imported cheaply and sold to consumers at oppressive prices,” Amitai said.